Hong Kong’s hamster cull sparks concern about abandonment in Singapore. Should pets get routine COVID-19 tests?

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Hamsters are “at higher risk than other animals such as mice”, stated infectious ailments professional Dr Paul Tambyah.
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This is as a result of hamsters have the ACE receptor which the SARS-CoV-2 virus must bind to in order to enter cells to breed and trigger the COVID-19 illness, he defined.

Results of a research printed in 2020 additionally counsel that options related to SARS-CoV-2 an infection in golden hamsters resemble these discovered in people with gentle infections.

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“To my knowledge, (the risk of transmission between hamsters and humans) has not been quantified but I would think that the individual risk is similar to, if not slightly less than, the risk of transmission between humans,” stated Dr Tambyah, who’s president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

“From a broader perspective most hamsters are kept on SHN (stay-home notice) in little cages with wheels … As a result, the overall risk of transmission from hamsters to humans is very low.”

He prompt that what may need occurred in Hong Kong is {that a} pet store employee “may have been the index case who went around infecting the hamsters inadvertently during feeding or cleaning activities”. 

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Echoing Dr Chong’s view, Dr Tambyah stated that imported pets ought to “definitely not” be put by COVID-19 testing now. 

“The checks that we at present have in use will not be optimised for animals and they’re prone to yield many false positives or false negatives,” he explained. “Many routine medical laboratories might not have the ability to reliably distinguish animal viruses from the human SARS-CoV-2.”

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If a pet that had sustained shut contact with a COVID-19 case falls sick, Dr Chang stated it needs to be taken to its common veterinarian, who would assess the publicity danger of the animal and rule out different more frequent causes of diseases.

“Should the veterinarian suspect that the animal may be sick from a SARS-CoV-2 infection, the veterinarian will contact AVS. We will follow up with the owner of the animal and the veterinarian to conduct further testing and isolation of the animal as needed,” he added.

“If required, AVS will collect samples from the animal and use a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test method for animals recommended by the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health).”

People who’re unwell should restrict contact with their pets, as they’d with different folks, stated Dr Chang. 

Good hygiene, reminiscent of completely washing palms earlier than and after direct contact with pets, their provides and meals, continues to be important to stop the unfold of COVID-19, he added.  

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