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Coronavirus patient's dog is now believed to be the first case of human-to-animal transmission

Coronavirus responsible for nine U.S. deaths
Coronavirus responsible for nine U.S. deaths 02:28

A coronavirus patient's pet dog that tested positive for the virus last week is now "likely" the first case of human-to-animal transmission, health authorities said Wednesday. The dog was found to have a low-level infection of the coronavirus after being tested repeatedly for the disease, a spokesperson for Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement.

The department first tested the dog on February 26 and later detected low levels of coronavirus from its nasal and oral samples a day later. Officials repeated both tests this week, finding it resulted in "weak positive" for the virus.

The statement said veterinary health experts were consulted and "unanimously agreed that these results suggest that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission."

Officials said the dog will be returned to its owner once its test result are negative. 

The dog, which is currently under quarantine at an animal facility in Hong Kong, has not shown any signs of illness, according to the statement. Another dog is also under quarantine at the facility but tested negative for coronavirus. The animals will be continue to be monitored, AFCD said. 

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FILE PHOTO: A woman and her dog wear protective masks in the street in Beijing, China.  Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

The department said there is currently no evidence to suggest that pets could be a source of coronavirus infection for humans. But it recommended that dogs, cats and other mammals owned as pets by confirmed coronavirus patients or people close to those patients should undergo quarantine at an AFCD facility, just in case.

"People who are sick should restrict contacting animals," the statement said. "If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible."

As of early Wednesday, more than 93,000 people worldwide have tested positive for coronavirus and more than 3,200 have died.

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