By JOOHEE CHO, ABC News
(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korea’s capital has started free COVID-19 tests for cats and dogs if a confirmed pet owner requests for them to be tested.
The first animal tested Wednesday was a Cocker Spaniel after a confirmed patient reported the pet had a runny nose and fever.
“Samples were collected at the nose and rectum, and the samples were transferred to the Animal Sanitation Laboratory of the Seoul Institute of Health and Environment and are currently undergoing tests,” a Seoul Metropolitan government official said in a press release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of transmitting the virus from pets to humans is low, but if confirmed with COVID-19, the pet will be required to be quarantined for 14 days.
Seoul officials recommend that pets who test positive for COVID-19 should be isolated in a separate space and taken care of by family members other than older people and children. Individuals should also wear masks and gloves while tending to the animal’s needs and people should avoid direct contact such as hugging and kissing.
Cost effective testing is still not always available in the United States but testing for pets, while rare, is actually available.
“Tests for COVID-19 in animals are available for most types of pets, but testing is only recommended for animals with COVID-19 symptoms and that have been exposed to a person with COVID-19,” the CDC says on their website.
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