Coronavirus: Can the outbreak affect pets? Expert explains

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- With cases of coronavirus from China being reported in the United States, many people are concerned about the possibility of human-to-human transmission. But they're also thinking about their pets.

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We asked Dr. Eran Bendavid, an infectious disease policy expert at Stanford Medicine, about the affect of the new coronavirus on pets. Here's what he said.

"First off, there are so few cases in the U.S. that the chance of transmission goes way down. We're talking about 11 cases so far. The chance of transmission is really exceptionally low to begin with," he began.

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"Jumping from species is sort of a rare event. Obviously, there are many viruses that are circulating among birds in particular and swine and what not. For it to jump to humans and then to be able to then sustain transmission among humans is a rare event, though it happens. It's happened now and it happened with camels, with mares, with bats with SARS. For it to then go back to a different species would be exceptionally unlikely."

The World Health Organization says, "At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets."

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