Will air filter masks stop people and pets from catching the coronavirus? Face masks are reportedly selling out in cities across Asia as concerns over the spread of a deadly new coronavirus grow.
China’s National Health Commission has deployed masks to healthcare workers responding to the outbreak, and millions of masks have been sent to residents of Wuhan, according to reports.
We know the coronavirus is airborne, and that it can be transmitted between people. But what about dogs? Researchers believe that the virus may have made the jump from animals to people via the inhalation of airborne particles in a seafood market that sold live wild animals. So, it makes sense to cover your nose and mouth.
What is the Current Version of the Coronavirus?
Though people are largely referring to the current illness at just “Coronavirus,” the term actually applies to a family of viruses that look similar to a “crown” when viewed under an electron microscope, called Coronaviridae. The current strain, which was first observed in December, is being called 2019-CoV. Other strains you may have heard of include SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Both of which caused a similar fuss, but have since settled down.
2019-CoV is thought to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan, China, through the consumption of snakes that were infected with the virus. As of today, there are over 2,500 confirmed cases in China, but only 56 infected people in other countries, including 5 in the United States – all of whom appear to have visited Wuhan, China recently.
Can Animals get Coronavirus?
Yes. The current strain is actually being linked to snakes sold at market. In this case, it appears that animals carrying the virus were able to pass it to a human host through the consumption of its meat. (This is still being investigated by the Center for Disease Control.)
Can My Dog Get Coronavirus?
There is Canine Coronavirus Disease – however, it does not seem to be linked to this strain.
Canine Coronavirus gets its name from the same characteristic that human viruses get theirs – a round, crown-like appearance when viewed under an electron microscope. Most cases are caused by dogs eating poop that carries the virus. Another reason to keep his mouth away from any piles he might find.
According to VCA Hospitals, Canine Coronavirus Disease does NOT affect humans.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus in Dogs?
Coronavirus doesn’t often cause symptoms in dogs, but on the few occasions that it does, you may notice a sudden onset of diarrhea, along with lethargy and poor appetite. Your dog’s diarrhea may contain blood or mucus, and if the infection occurs while your dog is suffering from another disease, like Parvovirus, it will cause it to become more severe.
Of course, these symptoms could point to a number of other issues, so be certain to see your vet.
Can I get Coronavirus from my Dog?
At this point, there have been no reported cases of 2019-CoV in dogs.
Previous strains of Coronavirus were traced back to human-animal contact. SARS-CoV appears to have been caused via contact with civet cats, and MERS from dromedary camels. 2019-CoV is thought to have first been transferred to humans through snakes that were sold at a market in Wuhan. After infecting the human host, the virus causes respiratory issues and is spread from human-to-human, often through the air, via a sneeze or cough.
Can I Give my Dog Coronavirus?
If you believe that you may be infected, you should immediately contact your doctor, and let them know you suspect that you may be infected before going to see them, so they can take precautions. See more about preventing the spread of Coronavirus at CDC.gov.
Previous strains of Coronavirus show that mammals, like camels and civet cats CAN get Coronavirus and infect humans. However, there doesn’t appear to be any cases of humans carrying Coronavirus infecting their pets.
Good hygiene practices should always be your first defense – wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you sneeze. For your dog – try to keep him from eating poop, pick up after him immediately when he does his business, and bathe him regularly.
Can a Muzzle Mask help Protect My Dog from Coronavirus?
There are two main types of face masks that are being used by people. One is a standard surgical mask – the kind worn by surgeons during operations. These masks are designed to block liquid droplets, and might lower the chance of catching the virus from another person.
But these masks don’t offer full protection against airborne viruses. For a start, they don’t fully seal off the nose and mouth – particles can still get in. And very small particles can simply pass through the material of the mask. These masks also leave the wearer’s eyes exposed – and there’s a chance the virus can infect that way. “They might help, but it’s not clear they give you total protection,” says Mark Woolhouse at the University of Edinburgh, UK.
The World Health Organization recommends that all healthcare workers treating people with the virus wear these surgical masks, along with gloves, goggles and gowns. Surgical masks are thought to be more effective in a clinical setting because they are accompanied by other protective equipment and stringent hygiene practices. The masks are also frequently replaced – surgical masks are not designed to be used more than once.
The second type is an N95 air filter which offers more protection. Such devices are designed to prevent 95 percent of small particles from entering the nose and mouth. But they only work if they fit properly. The K9 Mask® is an N95 mask for dogs with a velcro muzzle adjustment under the snout to tighten the mask around the dog's face.
While Asian commuters cover their noses and mouths with the blue-green paper-thin covers – and social media buzzes with mask emojis, rumors of stockpiles and shortages – the humble medical mask has become an essential weapon in the battle against an invisible enemy.
While the basic, loose-fitting mask can help restrict the spread of cough droplets from infected people, they are a “one-way” defense and do not create an effective barrier to breathing in dangerous airborne microbes. “It is not one of the recommended barrier measures” for people who have not been contaminated, according to France’s health minister Agnes Buzyn.
Satoshi Hiroi, a senior researcher at the Osaka Institute of Public Heath, told AFP, that high-quality masks could be effective, referring to more expensive, tight-fitting respirators used to filter fine particulates of dust and pollution.
“But as always, there is no 100-per cent guarantee,” he said, adding, the science was still out on exactly how the virus – which has so far killed 106 people and infected over 4,000 – is transmitted.
Still, on Bangkok’s streets many members of the public put faith in surgical masks on Tuesday, an act of self-defense in worrying times. “I’m very concerned about the virus,” Tanyamon Jamophast. “Everywhere I go (in addition to a mask) I also bring alcohol and gel sanitizer to clean my hands and avoid areas with Chinese tourists.”
Others wore heavier duty – and more effective – PM2.5 or 3M (N95) masks, in a city shrouded for weeks by damaging pollution. Fourteen infections, all but one detected in Chinese visitors, have been reported in Thailand, a peak season destination for the tour groups from the mainland.
For chemist Suphak Saphakkul that has led to the most intense panic-buying of medical items he has witnessed since the SARS epidemic in 2002/3. “All our (mask) suppliers are out of stock. These masks are made in China and the country itself is out of stock,” he said.
“We know that it does not provide 100 per cent protection but it is better than nothing... (and) it can also reassure the public.” Even for those who have one, there is a proper method to masking up. On Monday the mayor of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, took an online battering after wearing his mask inside-out.
“You can inhale the virus if there is a gap between the mask and the face,” added Satoshi Hiroi of the Osaka Institute of Public Heath. Meanwhile the Hubei provincial governor was pilloried for not wearing a mask during a press conference – contravening an order to cover-up in public.
Regular hand washing with soap, alcohol rubs and avoiding touching one’s face as well as crowded places are endorsed by the World Health Organization as effective personal hygiene habits against infection.
The advice has not stopped a run on the shelves, stockpiling or price hikes for medical masks, from Cambodia to Tokyo and Hubei to Hong Kong, where queues stretched outside the remaining retailers with stocks.