People could transmit the new coronavirus, whose disease is known as COVID-19, to dogs, cats and ferrets, although it is not yet confirmed that transmission occurs in reverse, according to the Ministry of Health in a new scientific-technical document about the virus.
This conclusion has been reached after detecting two cases of dogs with respiratory and digestive symptoms in Hong-Kong (China) and of a cat in Belgium who lived with a person infected with the new coronavirus.
In addition, as Health explains in the report, in experimental studies, it has been observed infection in cats and ferrets, with active replication of the virus in the respiratory tract. A situation that has also been observed, although with “much less intensity” in dogs.
About pigs, chickens and ducks, the department that directs Salvador Illa assured that no active replication of the virus has been observed after experimental inoculation. “These data indicate that there could be transmission from infected humans to dogs, cats and ferrets occasionally, and it is unknown if transmission could occur from these animals to humans,” says Health.
In fact, it is not known at the moment how the virus could be transmitted from the animal source to the first human cases, although “everything points to” direct contact with infected animals or their secretions.
In studies carried out in animal models with other coronaviruses, it has been observed tropism for the cells of different organs and systems producing mainly respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms, which could indicate that the transmission from the animal to humans could be through respiratory secretions and / or material from the digestive system.
Ban on cat and dog consumption
Shenzhen, one of the largest cities in China, announced last week that will incorporate in May a ban on eating dogs and cats to that of trade and consume wild animals, imposed in the framework of the coronavirus crisis.
On its website, the municipal government ensures that it is the “stricter regulation” that has been imposed in China since the national authorities launched a campaign against the consumption of wild animals after suspicions that the COVID-19 outbreak could be related to a Wuhan market where they were sold.
The list of Permitted land animals are limited to pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons and quail, as well as “others included in the National Directory of Genetic Resources for Livestock and Domestic Birds”, where other species such as buffalo, camels or horses.
It is thus also prohibited eating animals like snakes or lizards; However, the southeastern megalopolis will also allow continue to consume aquatic products that are not specifically prohibited, such as turtles or toads.
Those who continue to consume wild animals will face fines of at least 150,000 yuan ($ 21,130, 19,320 euros), while those who sell them will face penalties starting at 100,000 yuan ($ 14,090, 12,880 euros).
“There is no evidence that wild animals are more nutritious than domestic birds or livestock. The species allowed for consumption can satisfy people’s daily needs, “Liu Jianping, number two of the Food Safety Office of the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, was quoted by local press as saying.
The Executive of the city assured that, since the beginning of the epidemic, “the trade and consumption of wild animals has meant a great hidden danger to public health“, something that” has attracted the attention of society. “
Apart from Shenzhen, the nearby city of Zhuhai and the province to which they both belong, Canton, have also recently issued regulations on the matter, following the initiative of the national authorities.
The animal associations celebrated the decision: “It is the first city in China that prohibits the production and consumption of cat and dog meat,” Humane Society International said in a statement.
“Shenzhen is the fifth largest city in China and although the dog meat trade is relatively small there compared to the rest of the province, the true meaning (of the law) is to be able to generate a domino effect so that other cities follow in its footsteps“, says the document.
According to the estimates of that organization, each year they kill 10 million dogs and 4 million cats for consumption in China.
However, despite stereotypes, the intake of these animals not usual in China and every time, especially among the youngest, there are more social opposition to be allowed to do so.
After the alleged sale of wild animals in the Wuhan market where the COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have emerged, many Chinese called on social media to end their trade.
Beijing reacted by decreeing the suspension of these activities and in the annual session of the Legislature – scheduled for early March but postponed due to the virus – it will analyze a draft to definitively ban them.