The World Health Organisation has now declared the outbreak of the coronavirus to be a global public health emergency as the death toll continues to rise worldwide. In response, major airlines have suspended flights to certain areas of China as countless individuals buy up face masks as a way to protect themselves against the virus.
Reports have also been surfacing, that pet owners are buying face masks for their pets alongside their own, with hilarious results. Images have surfaced of pets wearing odd homemade creations. Most of the masks are made from common household items, including plastic cups, handkerchiefs and even socks! Some have had eye holes cut into them so the animals can see.
The owner of a cat in Bejing dressed up her cat as a nurse, complete with a mask and uniform. Posting a video to Chinese social media giant "Weibo", her caption reads "Hope the epidemic is over soon, taking off the mask. Really do not like to wear a mask". - Lily.
The video was an attempt to find the lighter side of China's viral outbreak.
But can cats and dogs actually contract the Coronavirus? The news originates from China's top expert in infectious diseases. He warned that pets could be infected by Coronavirus. However, the World Health Organisation claims that it has not been presented with any evidence that the virus can be passed onto cats or dogs.
"Their main purposes (of the dog masks) are to block out smog, stop dogs from eating or licking food on the floor and prevent them from being exposed to the virus." Says Zhou Tianxiao, 33, who started selling the special dog masks back in 2018.
Anne Kimmerlein, veterinary epidemiologist, says: "There is currently no evidence that dogs or cats can be infected with the 2019 coronavirus."
Ultimately, human or not, it would seem face masks are ineffective in preventing the spread. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, recommended to skip using masks as a method of prevention. She said in a statement: “While it is cold and flu season, we don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks in the general public to prevent respiratory illness, and we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.”
While pets are largely un-affected by the virus, is it possible perhaps, that dogs who run around the street and come into contact with the virus by playing with infected people, or eating pieces of infected meat, could bring the virus to the family home simply by the transferring infected matter? If you have questions about your pets, be sure to bring them up with your regular veterinarian.