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Research on pets contracting COVID-19 moves forward at Texas A&M's veterinary school

Posted at 9:47 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 10:48:00-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — The veterinary school at Texas A&M is doing groundbreaking research on pets contracting COVID-19.

"When we go for a visit, each animal gets its own bag," Edward Davila, a College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences student at Texas A&M University said.

Davila is preparing sampling kits to test people's pets for COVID.

Edward Davila, student, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University

"The fact that they allow us to come into their homes, and you know, draw blood and maybe make their pets like a little bit uncomfortable, is really encouraging because they understand that the science is important, " Davila said.

The team of researchers, led by Associate professor, Dr. Sarah Hamer, have sampled more than 400 animals living in a house with at least one person who's had the virus across the Brazos Valley. So far more than 40 have come back with positive results. They expect that number increase.

"For an animal to be tested, and for an animal to be confirmed, not only is it testing positive in our labs and other reference labs but then we send samples to a national veterinary lab where the final testing takes place," Sarah Hamer, Associate professor of College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University said.

"We also take a nasal swab and an oral swab," Davila said.

"Although we are finding animal infections, it's very rare for the animals to be sick," Hamer said.

The team HAS tested mostly dogs, several cats, and a small number of other household pets.

So far data indicates more cats end up testing positive. If an animal tests positive, they recommend putting the animal in quarantine, FOLLOWED BY more testing.

"We're interested to sample again, and again to find out the duration of infection and how long the antibody tighter will last," Hamer said.

A pet's positive results don't mean it's time to give it away.

"You can't say that animals are infecting humans because we haven't seen any evidence that they can but it's still important and that's still being communicated with our peers and the general public," Davila said.

Although it may be hard, the team recommends staying away from your pets and wearing a mask around them if you have COVID.