Small Animal Veterinary Association of Nigeria (SAVAN) says pet owners should ensure personal hygiene, hand washing and good sanitation practices before and after caring for their pets.
Dr Kunle Abiade, the President of the Association, who gave the advice in a statement made available to Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja said the measure would mitigate the possibility of cross transmission of COVID-19 between animals and human.
Abiade urged pet owners to keep their pets to themselves and prevent unwarranted interactions with other people.
“The attention of SAVAN has been drawn to the concerns of pet owners who desire to know the possibility of cross transmission of COVID-19 between animals and man.
“This is in view of the diagnosis of COVID-19 in Tiger at a Zoo in New York and also on the heels of similar diagnosis in a cat in Belgium,” he said.
He stated that it was the informed opinion as practitioners of veterinary medicine and as agreed to, globally in medical communities that the origin of COVID-19 had been traced to animals (in this case, bats or pangolins).
“So, the viral disease ensuing qualifies as zoonotic. In real terms, zoonotic diseases have the potential of cross transmitting from animal to man or from man to animals. Once zoonotic, the potential are always there.
“And because of the fact that over 70 per cent of human diseases originate from animals, it stands to reason that the possibility exists, even if remote as this time.
“However, no scientific evidence has yet been found in these isolated events as to the origin of the disease in the affected animals or whether they are capable of transmitting it to their close contacts.
“It is our opinion in SAVAN that while studying the situation, as a lot of research is needed to elucidate the interactions, we implore pet owners not to panic and maintain healthy relationships with their pets,”Abiade said.
Abiade prescribed that dog walking should be in open and safe places where there is minimal contact with objects that may have been handled by other people.
According to him, cats especially, should be sheltered at this time and prevented from their usual adventurous proclivities.
“Similar measures as aforementioned should also be extended to other animals that are always in close proximity with humans.
“While researches are on-going and the facts are unraveling, it is expedient that we maintain responsible pet ownership to enjoy the uncommon relationship we have with our pets,” he added.