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Hong Kong dog infection spurs worries among pet owners

Experts say there is no evidence that household animals can transmit coronavirus

A dog in China’s snow-covered Jilin Province on March 4. Health officials have emphasized there is no indication that pets are a source of infection of the coronavirus or that they can become sick with the disease.   © Getty Images

HONG KONG — When Colleen Wu takes her two-year-old dog for a walk these days, she covers its mouth with a muzzle.

Wu, who lives in the city of Yangzhou in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province, believes that can help prevent her dog, a Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix named Annie, from biting anything that might contain the new coronavirus. She also sanitizes Annie and the products her cherished dog uses when they return home.

Fears among pet owners are rising this week after a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus, noted by authorities as “low-level of infection,” despite the lack of evidence that humans can contract the potentially deadly virus from household animals.

Wu believes that some people are overreacting to the news. “If the threat is real, Wuhan should have already had a major outbreak among pets,” she said. “But we haven’t seen that.”