Prof Ronny Rachman Noor Gives a Message to Be Careful About the Phenomenon of Transmission of COVID-19 to Animals

Prof. Ronny Rachman Noor, Professor of IPB University, Geneticist and Observer of Education and Culture said that COVID-19 began to infect animals. He observed that to date scientists say there is no evidence that animals play an important role in spreading disease to humans. "However, data in the field shows that there has been transmission of COVID-19 in various species around the world such as dogs, cats, monkeys and mink”, he explained.

Cases of transmission of COVID-19 to cats and dogs have been reported in several countries. The world's first positive case of COVID-19 in dogs was reported in Hong Kong, while the first case of a cat testing positive occurred in the UK in July 2020.

America's first case occurred with a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York. It was later stated that eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo in California tested positive for COVID-19. It is suspected that the animal was sick after being exposed by a zoo keeper who was infected with COVID-19.

"A more serious problem occurs with mink, which is a semi-aquatic animal that is bred for its fur. Several countries have reported infections in the mink and in some cases it is very severe and has resulted in death”, he said.

The largest number of mink infections occurred in Denmark, which led to the country taking the decision to cull millions of animals and completely shut down the mink farming industry until 2022.

The most worrying thing, according to Prof. Ronny, is the evidence that mongoose has transmitted a mutated virus back to humans. Of the various cases that have been reported, this transmission is thought to have occurred from humans to pets, but if in the future there is re-transmission from animals to humans with mutated variants of the virus, the corona pandemic will be increasingly difficult to control.

The transmission of the COVID-19 virus, which is not impossible to spread, also provides a red light signal for rare animals such as gorillas and other endangered animals, because it can make animals that are already in this rare status even rarer.

"Experts are also concerned that, if the virus spreads widely among animals, a new mutated variant of the virus could emerge. In theory, this variant is predicted to be resistant to vaccines currently being launched worldwide”, he explained.

The biggest question that arises is whether it is necessary to develop a special vaccine for animals so that this chain of transmission does not get longer and can be broken immediately?

Concerns that there will be re-transmission from animals to humans with mutated viruses have led to the need for a special COVID-19 vaccine for animals.

According to him, this is necessary not only to break the chain of transmission between humans and animals and between animals, but also to anticipate return transmission from animals to humans. It should be noted that viruses that have mutated in animals if re-transmitted to humans are expected to transmit faster and be more dangerous.

“Russia is listed as the first country in the world to successfully develop and produce a special COVID-19 vaccine for animals and has been approved for use this month. "The vaccine produced in Russia is called Carnivak-Cov which can be used on dogs, cats, minks, foxes and other animals”, he said.

The results of clinical trials of this vaccine were carried out in October last year and produced 100 percent antibodies in all vaccinated animals. A special type of vaccine for animals has also been developed by the American pharmaceutical company, Zoetis, since last year. The resulting vaccines are considered safe and effective in cats and dogs. This vaccine has also been tested on gorillas.

The test results on the Orangutan and Bonobo did not cause a negative reaction and will soon be tested for antibodies. With the transmission and spread of COVID-19 in animals in the future, it is estimated that in addition to developing vaccines for humans, a special vaccine for animals will also be widely developed.

What should we do? "As is the case in humans, while waiting for the development of a special vaccine for animals, health protocols must also be applied if we are close to animals. This is necessary to reduce transmission from both domesticated humans and wild animals or from animal-to-human transmission”, he explained.

If the situation allows, pet dogs may be given the opportunity to come out into the garden of the house. “If we have a dog that is used to going out of the house and needs to be walked around the house, then it's best not to leave the house too much. If you leave the home, the time is adjusted according to our exercise schedule while maintaining a distance from other people in accordance with the health protocol, which is a minimum of two meters”, he added.

On the other hand, for cats, it's best to be confined indoors. Every now and then if the cat has the opportunity to leave the house for a while and try to keep our cat from interacting with other cats.

"Apart from that, we also have to routinely clean the food and drink containers every day, as well as the places for feces. When cleaning this equipment, use a mask and wash your hands with soap that contains a disinfectant after washing. Another thing that must be considered is if we are sick, limit the contact with our pets”, he added. (dh/zul)

Published Date : 06-May-2021

Resource Person : Prof Ronny Rachman Noor

Keyword : Prof Ronny, IPB University Professors, Animals’ Covid-19