Can my guinea pig catch coronavirus?

Hi there Piggy Slaves, it’s Alison your editor here, we hope you are enjoying your new issue!

Here is the latest information on Coronavirus and what it means for you and your guinea pigs. We are all aware that this virus is spreading faster than all the virologists or epidemiologists (who work on and study viruses and the spread of disease) can keep track.

Thank you to Kim Halford MRCVS, Katherine Frayling RHA, Abigail Edis Exotic Vet Nurse, and Dr. Alison Wills. The views and knowledge expressed here are based on what our Experts have seen/reviewed/discussed with others.

While Coronavirus is zoonotic (the source of it thought to be an animal, but there is a debate over the species), that does not mean it passes from and to all animals. In truth, we do not know where the virus has originated from. Viruses are mutating and being discovered all the time and COVID-19 is no different, except being a nasty strain of a flu virus that we see every year during the winter. You may have seen in the media reports of a dog in Hong Kong testing positive for the virus. However, this was on a swab, which just picks up the presence or absence of virus particles. The dog lived in a house with humans who had covid-19, and the likelihood is that the dog just breathed in the virus.

There is currently absolutely no evidence that COVID-19 is passed onto or carried by guinea pigs or any other animals. Animals have their own viruses but not this one. However, this information could have been missed, or more likely, the evidence hasn’t been collected. It’s also unlikely that there ever will be much evidence collected for us – guinea pigs may not be the most popular pets in the worst affected countries, and the best people to approach are still dealing with the human side of it.

There is no need to isolate yourself from your pets or rehome them. If anyone has flu/respiratory symptoms then just observe good hand hygiene as normal and follow the Government and Public Health England’s guidelines on isolation and medical advice. No need to change anything with pets. New advice may change things but this is the most up-to-date as of now. (15th March 2020)

The best advice that we can give you is hand hygiene, hand hygiene, hand hygiene; Before and after handling guinea pigs and other animals. Hands should be washed with soap for at least 20 seconds making sure the whole surface of the hands are thoroughly lathered. Of course, this is good practice anyway.

Don’t forget we have a whole article on Zoonotic Dseases and Your Guinea Pig in Issue 46 of the magazine, click here.

Here is some further information about whether pets can catch the coronavirus. As with any illness, it seems that it is best to avoid too much contact if you are suffering from the virus or are suspected of having it. https://wsava.org/news/highlighted-news/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-animals-advice-for-wsava-members/

 And some sensible advice from the RSPCA. https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/blogs/details/-/articleName/how-to-care-for-your-pets-if-you-re-ill-or-have-to-self-isolate-due-to-coronavirus

 Protect yourself and protect your pets by washing your hands!

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