There’s an interesting report that pets of people with COVID-19 in Seoul, Korea (and soon other areas) will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 for free, if the pets are showing signs of compatible illness. This comes on the heels of the (unsurprising) identification of an infected kitten in the city at the end of January, which was the first (confirmed) infection in an animal in Korea. It’s an interesting response, and it’s nice to see.
- We get more information about human-to-pet transmission
- We might get more information about the potential development of mutations of the virus in pets
- Infected pets can be isolated (whether they pose a significant risk to people or other pets is still unknown at the moment, but erring on the side of caution is prudent)
- More exposure of of testing staff to infected households in order to collect samples
- More contact of additional people with potentially infected pets
Overall, I’d say the pros outweigh the cons, as long as there’s a good plan for safe sampling and for handling positive results.
We don’t know if a response like this is necessary, but the fact that we don’t know probably means that it is. Once again, an Asian country is demonstrating a more proactive response to a disease risk, rather than the “show me there’s a problem, then I’ll think about acting” response we’ve seen elsewhere.