With the recent news that a tiger in the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, concern about transmitting the virus from humans to pets has grown. State public health veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo says it’s a rare occurrence, but sometimes animals can get sick from exposure.
“That’s why we recommend that if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19 that they have someone else in the household take care of the animal directly,” said Balsamo.
Balsamo says the virus survives best on smooth surfaces such as stainless steel, so it is a relatively low threat for animals to carry the virus in their fur.
“Hair coats and skin on an animal, the virus does not survive very long on those types of surfaces because they are porous surfaces,” said Balsamo.
Balsamo says there are steps to reduce the risk of pets becoming ill from exposure.
“Not kissing and getting really close to the animal’s face, those types of things, just using common sense hygiene, washing hands a lot,” said Balsamo.