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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Kent State Health Expert Warns Pets Could Transmit Coronavirus

photo of dog
KSU Prof. Tara Smith says people need to be careful around their pets.

A Kent State expert says pet owners need to be aware of how COVID-19 could potentially be transmitted.

Scientists believe coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, was first contracted by humans from bats in China. It's not yet been confirmed.

Although humans contracted the virus from animals, public health Professor Tara Smith says the probability humans are transmitting it to their pets is low.

Instead, Smith says concern should be if pets are acting as intermediaries carrying the virus.

“If you have somebody who is petting a dog, and that person is infected, maybe they don’t even realize it yet, but they’re petting the dog. They’re putting virus on that dog’s fur, and then everybody else in the household is also petting that dog. That dog could potentially serve as a way to transmit that virus between people.”

As a precaution, Smith suggests if you have COVID-19 and are in isolation to isolate yourself from your pets as well and to visit the CDC’s website for more information.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media. A Northeast Ohio native and lifelong listener of public radio, Abigail started in public radio as a news intern at WKSU. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.