Those who walk pet dogs may have an increased chance of catching coronavirus by 78%, according to a study.Spanish researchers investigated how different behaviours change people’s likelihood of catching Covid-19.
Working at the office, getting supermarket deliveries and walking increased someone’s risk significantly.The study, published in the Environmental Research journal, suggested dogs could be catching the virus and spreading it, or transporting it by touching contaminated surfaces and then their owners. Visit our live blog for the latest updates Coronavirus news live
‘The results of our research warn of increased contagion among dog-owners,’ said Professor Cristina Sánchez González.
‘The reason for this higher prevalence has yet to be elucidated. Taking into account the current scarcity of resources to carry out the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, the possibility of diagnosis in dogs is extremely unlikely.’
She added it may be possible the virus was spread in their faeces, but said there is not yet enough information to confirm this.
As a result the scientists have warned dog owners should be extra careful about hygiene during and after taking their pet outdoors.
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It comes despite a lack of knowledge about how animals spread the virus. Although there have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in cats and dogs, animals do not appear to actually get unwell.The study, carried out by the University of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health in Spain, undertook a survey of 2,086 people in Spain, with 41% of participants between 40 and 54 years old. People were asked what they had done during the pandemic and whether they had caught Covid-19, then scientists compared the results to work out which activities were riskiest.
They found 4.7% of the group caught Covid at some point – which is around 98 people.
Activities that were linked to an increased risk of testing positive included taking supermarket deliveries at home, which raised the risk by 94% and was found to be more dangerous than actually going to the shop.
Working at the office, instead of from home, caused the risk to rise by 76%, and of course someone else in the household testing positive increased the risk by up to 60 times.
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And living with a dog which they took for walks outside raised someone’s risk by 78%.
The study added it didn’t make sense that children’s playgrounds should be shut when dog parks could remain open, given they appeared to be driving the coronavirus transmission.
The study did not find other aspects of people’s lives, such as who they lived with, their jobs or other pets, had any effect on the extra risk brought by the dog.Professor Sánchez González added: ‘In the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation, and these measures should also be applied to dogs, which, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of contracting the virus.’
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