No evidence pets can be infected with new virus

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CLAIM: Experts warn pets could be infected with new coronavirus

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There is no evidence that pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new virus from China, according to the World Health Organization.

THE FACTS: In recent days, posts have surfaced on social media suggesting pets could be infected with the new virus. “Chinese dog owners rush to buy face masks for their dogs as experts warn that pets could also get infected by the #coronavirus,” a user posted on Twitter.

The reports began circulating after a leading Chinese epidemiologist, Li Lanjuan, appeared to warn of the possibility during an interview in late January on China Central Television,

Asked about the reports claiming pets can be infected with the new virus, Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokesperson at WHO, told the AP in an email, “we have not changed our advice.”

In many cases, a number of photos have emerged on social media showing cats and dogs wearing masks. The origin of the photos and where they were taken is not clear. However, according to WHO: “At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with new coronavirus.”

The epicenter of the virus, Wuhan, China, has been on lockdown since January. There were a number of reports that pet owners were unable to return to their homes, and had left their pets behind. While the new virus appears to have emerged from an animal source, the illness is spreading from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency also confirmed that there have been no reports that animals or pets have become sick with the new virus.

As of Friday, the death toll from the virus had reached 1,380, up 121 from the previous day.The number of confirmed cases in China jumped to over 63,000.