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Arizona pets to be subject of coronavirus study at TGen lab

TGen Hayley Yaglom.jpg
Posted at 9:42 AM, Mar 10, 2021

PHOENIX — The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is now testing pets of Arizonans who have contracted COVID-19 in order to better track and understand the virus.

"Among the more than 120 pets that have tested positive nationwide, there is no evidence suggesting that pets can spread the virus to humans," TGen stated. However, the full impact of coronavirus on animals is not yet known.

Two dogs and two cats have so far tested positive for COVID-19 in Arizona.

According to a media release, the study is being done with the help of a grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

TGen says no pets will be harmed and all samples (nasal, fecal, and blood) will be collected by trained veterinary staff. TGen will determine whether COVID-19 or antibodies are present in the pets' samples.

"We want to better understand the risk factors leading to any form of COVID-19 transmission between humans and animals," said Hayley Yaglom, a genomic epidemiologist and lead TGen investigator on the study.

"In addition to conducting surveillance for the COVID-19 virus in companion animals," Dr. David Engelthaler, head of TGen's infectious disease studies, said in a press release. "Our work also aims to develop a response plan among One Health collaborators, highlighting best practices and how to effectively integrate SARS-CoV-2 and other animal and human pathogen surveillance into established systems."

If you'd like to take part in the study, TGen says there are some things to know:

-Dog and cat owners who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past two weeks are eligible to participate in the study at no cost.
-Owners must be at least 18, provide consent and fill out a questionnaire.
-The pet must be vaccinated against rabies, mainly housed indoors, and tolerant of the handling and restraint necessary for routine veterinary care.
-Pet owners must wear masks during sample collection, and project staff will wear masks and gloves.
-Spanish-speaking staff will be available, as needed.
-Pet owners will be notified of test results within 3-4 weeks.
-For pets that test positive, owners may be asked to enable collection of additional samples. Positive tests will be reported to the Arizona State Veterinarian and ADHS.

For more information about testing pet dogs or cats for COVID-19, please send questions to covidpetprojectaz@tgen.org.