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Corona Virus explained by International dog show judge, why COVID-19 and so many viruses originate in China, how it mutated and what corona virus means to you.




Your Dog, Your Health and the 2020 Virus

Fred Lanting, AKC, UKC, SV Judge, SAAB

a still-healthy world traveler, scientist, and dog judge.


Another year, another health warning! It’s getting to be like a bad habit you are plagued with, or an illness that keeps flaring up. At the beginning of 2020, incidence of “COVID-19”, short for COrona VIrus (a general classification) D-19 (specific part of the name, the “19” probably related to the year it appeared) has been nearly exploding. Also spelled as one word, a “coronavirus” is a somewhat broad category rather than a particular illness.


As has been the case with many other “flu”-type illnesses such as Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flu, SARS-CoV, H3N2v, H5N2, and H7N9 {Ref #1 cross-species-transmission} some viruses start in other animals and either by mutation or close contact spread to the human population. The Chinese people love their dogs and interact closely with them just as we in America do. They continue to do so even as fear spreads.


This cross-species spread is more fear than reality in the case of the current corona virus. Although the epidemic, which emerged in central China in December 2019, has already infected nearly 100,000 people globally, the USA, geographically semi-isolated, has been less affected.


One reason many cross-species viruses seem to originate in places like rural China or African jungles is that it is common there to eat carrier-or-disease-afflicted wild animals. Other reasons can be political — as in the case of the Chinese government ignoring the warnings from one of their scientists who incidentally died from COVID-19.


With the high incidence of pet ownership here, many Americans have expressed worry that their pets might succumb to or transmit the virus. On March 5 the Associated Press published a report from Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department that cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans by becoming infected themselves, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they pick up (and carry) virus particles from their owners’ coughs, sneezes, or hand contact.


Until we know for sure how long the COVID-19 virus remains active on such non-human surfaces, we should be careful handling suspected or potentially infected pets.



A dog in quarantine in Hong Kong tested weakly positive for the virus Feb. 27 through March 2, even though that department said, “There is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.” Still, people are going to worry that they can pick it up by petting a dog as easily as from touching any non-living surface that may have been exposed recently to cough or sneeze droplets.


Scientists suspect that another virus (SARS-CoV-2) originated in bats before they passed it on to another species, possibly a small wild mammal, which then passed it on to humans. However, experts from universities, vet schools, and the World Organization for Animal Health have unanimously agreed that the canine has a low-level of infection and that human-to-animal transmission is more likely than in the other direction. They are surmising that this may also be true for the COVID-19 virus. Let’s hope so!


Some countries are reacting more strongly than others. That will incidentally have a damping effect on dog shows. While the USA has not been as affected and consequently is just beginning to initiate strong steps including quarantine to stop the spread, others are economically suffering because of travel restrictions related to the virus. For example, hotels throughout West Bank (Israel) will stop welcoming tourists and the government there will bar foreigners from half a dozen or more countries who cannot home-quarantine. As of this writing the U.S. has banned travel to and from some other countries and cruise ships are unable to port.


An annual fair (typical attendance 1,250 people) in Teaneck, NJ, was scrapped after one local man was diagnosed with the virus. If we see a rapid rise in corona virus numbers here, we may also see such U.S. headlines as this one I came across: 80,000 Israelis believed in home quarantine. We have already seen a marked decrease in international air travel and many airlines have stopped arriving here. The cruise-ship industry is being hit hard, too. As I write this, two ships are being held in quarantine off the California coast. It’s not the only one where travelers have been or are being delayed.


Travel, dog shows, and other activities will be affected until this virus dies down. As the spring show circuits gear up, we will see what clubs, exhibitors, and judges decide about travel.


Referenced Information: {#1} Cross-Species Viral Transmission i.e. Zika virus

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