Source: PIJAC member communication
The Hong Kong government yesterday ordered a cull of pet hamsters and other small mammals in the region after one pet store worker contracted the coronavirus and some hamsters in that store subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Key information from the government press release:
- All animals in Little Boss, a pet shop in Causeway Bay, and its warehouse in Tai Po will be humanely dispatched.
- As of January 18, ALL pet shops in Hong Kong selling hamsters must suspend business.
- Hamsters from pet shops will be taken for COVID-19 tests and humane dispatch, while other animals of those pet shops need to undergo testing for the COVID-19 virus.
- Pet shops can resume operation when satisfactory test results are returned.
- The import of all small mammals (including hamsters) has been immediately suspended.
- Pet owners in Hong Kong who purchased hamsters after December 22, 2021, were strongly advised to turn them over to authorities for euthanasia, and a further appeal was made to the public to not turn any pet hamsters loose in the street.
In a news conference, the Hong Kong Health Secretary said that the directive was made “out of caution” even though there was no evidence domestic animals can infect humans.
PIJAC is alarmed by this situation, will continue to closely monitor it, and will remain in frequent contact with its colleagues in the scientific, health and responsible pet care communities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as it evolves. PIJAC feels that the Hong Kong government acted rashly and the directive to kill thousands of pets “out of caution” and without scientific basis was unnecessary.
PIJAC has confirmed with CDC that:
- CDC’s position that the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low has not changed.
- They do not plan to revise their recommendations for how people with COVID-19 can protect their pets, or how to handle pets if you think they may have COVID-19.
- People should continue to practice safe hygiene around pets—including always washing hands after handling pets, their food or their waste—to help prevent the spread of disease.
PIJAC emphasizes the importance that the pet care community always utilize appropriate hygiene practices around pets to help prevent the spread of disease, and that you serve as a trusted resource to your customers and your community by sharing information on protecting their and their pets’ health through safe pet handling.
PIJAC will continue to closely monitor this situation and will share additional information of relevance with you as it becomes available. In the meantime, the below resources will help you understand COVID-19’s impact on people and pets, and practices to protect the health of both.
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