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TGen to study the relationship between pets and COVID-19, looking for pet participants

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 01:14:54-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — So far in the United States, more than 120 pets have tested positive for COVID-19. In Arizona, four pets, two dogs and two cats, have tested positive. Hayley Yaglom, TGen’s genomic epidemiologist, says those pets were from Maricopa and Pima County.

“We do know that animals. Specifically, pets, such as dogs and cats are susceptible to becoming exposed to an infected virus that causes COVID. Thus far, there has been no evidence to show that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus back to people,” said Yaglom.

This project aims to learn more about the relationship between COVID and pets to better characterize how the virus impacts them and their owners.

“There are so many infectious diseases and chronic diseases that impact both human and animal populations, and you know COVID falls right into that category. So pets can become symptomatic and they actually develop signs and symptoms pretty similar to what people can develop respiratory signs, such as coughing and difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal signs high fever, and they can, unfortunately, passed away from COVID-19 as well, although it does not seem to be as common as with people,” said Yaglom.

TGen is looking to study 100 cats and dogs from all over Arizona. The pet’s owner must have contracted COVID-19 within about two weeks of participating in the study. The individual recently tested positive must be of 18 years or older. Yaglom believes she and her team will be sampling pets over the next six months.

“The best option is for interested individuals to just reach out to us via our project email address, and we will work with folks to schedule a convenient time to come visit their home and sample their pets,” said Yaglom.

That email address is covidpetprojectaz@teg.org. This project is in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services.