Texas dog first animal in state confirmed to have COVID-19

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A dog in Texas has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first confirmed animal in the state to be infected with the virus, officials said on Wednesday.

A private veterinarian decided to test the 2-year-old Fort Worth-area canine for the virus on July 7 as a precautionary measure after its owners were confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).

“Based on current knowledge, there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people,” State Veterinarian, Dr. Andy Schwartz said. “It’s always important to restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people, if you are infected with COVID-19 in order to protect them from infection.”

The dog is one of 12 animals in the U.S. -- including one lion and one tiger -- to test positive for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The animals mainly got sick after coming into close contact with people who had the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

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Even though a handful of animals have been reported to be infected with the virus in the U.S., the CDC has stated on its website that: "the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low."

"At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19," the CDC added.

The agency said that until it learns more about how this virus affects animals -- pet owners are advised to treat their animals as they would other human family members, in order to protect them from possibly being infected with the virus.

The CDC recommends walking dogs on a leash at least six feet from other people or animals and keeping cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other people.

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If infected or suspected to have the virus, the best practice is to have another member of the household take care of your pet, according to the agency. If that's not possible, you should wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.

"If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people," the CDC said. "Until we know more about this virus, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals."

The TAHC added that other activities people should avoid with their animals include: "petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or sleeping in the same bed."

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