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Dogs, cats can't pass on coronavirus, but can test positive

Hong Kong agriculture and health officials say the animals can catch it from humans, but that pet owners should not be overly concerned.

HONG KONG — Pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owner.

That's the conclusion of Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and other experts after a dog in quarantine tested weakly positive for the virus in samples from its nose and mouth.

Researchers believe the dog has a low-level of infection and it is “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission," according to the Associated Press.

The agricultural department said it found no evidence that pets were a source of infection or could get sick themselves with the COVID-19 illness. It suggested, however, that pets from a household of an infected person be quarantined.

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A spokesman for the department said outside of maintaining good hygiene, pet owners shouldn't be too concerned and should definitely not abandon their pets.

As has been advised since the outbreak, pet owners should wash their hands thoroughly. This includes before and after touching animals, their food and supplies and picking up their feces. Owners should also not kiss pets.

If a person gets sick with COVID-19, they should avoid contact with pets, according to the Associated Press. Contact a veterinarian if a pet's health conditions change.