Pet dog blood test result released

March 12, 2020

A blood test of a pet dog, which had earlier repeatedly tested weak positive for COVID-19, has shown a negative result, the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department announced today.


The department collected samples from the dog five times for tests since late February and detected low levels of the virus in its nasal and oral cavity samples.


A blood sample was taken from it on March 3 for a serological test, which resulted in a negative result, indicating that there is not a strong immune response and that there are currently not measurable amounts of antibodies in the blood.


The negative serological test result does not suggest that the dog is not infected with the virus.


It is known in some asymptomatic or mild cases of human infections with other types of coronavirus that antibodies may not always develop. It is also not uncommon to have a negative result in the earlier stages of infection as it often takes 14 days or more for measurable levels of antibodies to be detected.


Another blood sample will be taken later for further testing.


Additionally, the department, together with the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, has conducted gene sequencing of the COVID-19 virus from the dog and its close human contacts who were confirmed to be infected.


They discovered that the viral sequences are very similar, indicating that the virus likely spread from the infected people to the dog.


The animal has not shown any signs of the disease and it is currently under quarantine at the animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.


The department will continue to monitor the dog closely.


As COVID-19 is a new disease, it will work together with the Department of Health in handling relevant cases.


There currently is no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19, the department added.


Pet owners should not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.

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