TGen started testing cats and dogs for COVID-19 last month, as part of a new scientific study. They hope their research can provide answers to whether there are any risk factors leading to COVID transmission between humans and animals.
There's been growing information about different types of animals testing positive for COVID-19 - from wildlife at zoos, to even household pets.
"We do know, based on some of the other studies in the U.S. and globally, that dogs and cats are susceptible to becoming symptomatic just like people are. They develop pretty similar signs and symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, respiratory concerns, sometimes gastrointestinal issues, not interested in eating, and sometimes they can be asymptomatic as well," says Hayley Yaglom, genomic epidemiologist, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
More than 120 pets have tested positive nationwide.
Local research institute, TGen, has been conducting a study in Arizona hoping to determine whether pets can become infected from their owners and, what type of interactions pose a greater risk.
"One of the things that we're really keeping an eye out now, in addition to asking the questions about animals testing positive, are these new strains of COVID-19 that we're learning about more and more in the human population. We want to know if those are impacting the animal populations as well," says Yaglom.
TGen says so far, they have collected 13 samples on dogs and cats.
At this point, there have been three presumptive positive cases and an additional four cases prior to the study even starting.
That is something many pet owners suspected could happen but couldn't prove.
"He didn't get up for a week and we thought he might be sick, so we thought he could have COVID. Frankly, it's a shame that there aren't more vaccines made available for dogs right now," says Wes Moyer, dog owner.
TGen saying cats and dogs are tested pretty similar to how humans are, including a nasal swab and blood sample for antibodies testing.
They plan on collecting 100 samples over the next six months
"The more science, the better. You know, the more we can learn how this transmits and passes, I think the better for all human-kind," says another dog owner.
Any positive tests will be reported to the Arizona State Veterinarian and Arizona Department of Health Services so that we can have more data moving forward.
Some would even like to see pet COVID testing be made widely available.
"He's my baby, so you don't want anything to happen to them. That would be something if they presented it, I would totally do that," says Jessica Nichols, dog owner.
TGen is still looking for participants. Dog and cat owners who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past two weeks are eligible, and testing is free.
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