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Seoul launches COVID tests for pets

The programme in the sprawling South Korean capital comes weeks after the country reported its first case of COVID-19 infection in an animal, involving a kitten.

February 08, 2021 / 03:02 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Pet cats and dogs with a fever, cough or breathing difficulties will be offered coronavirus tests if they have been exposed to carriers, the Seoul metropolitan government said Monday.

The programme in the sprawling South Korean capital comes weeks after the country reported its first case of COVID-19 infection in an animal, involving a kitten.

"Starting today, the Seoul metropolitan government will offer coronavirus tests for pet dogs and cats," Park Yoo-mi, a Seoul city official handling disease control, told reporters.

Tests will be limited to pets that show symptoms -- including fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and runny noses -- after coming into contact with humans who have tested positive, she added.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The test will be conducted near the animal's home by a team of health workers including a veterinarian, Park said.

Animals that test positive will be required to be kept isolated at home for 14 days, but where owners have the virus their pets will be sent to separate kennels or catteries -- human patients in South Korea are generally confined in central quarantine facilities if they do not need hospital treatment.

Around the world several animals -- including dogs and cats -- have tested positive for the coronavirus, which has killed more than two million people worldwide.

At least two gorillas at California's San Diego Zoo tested positive for the virus last month, believed to have been transmitted from an asymptomatic zoo worker.

In Denmark -- the world's biggest producer of mink fur -- an outbreak of a mutated version of the coronavirus at mink farms last year prompted a culling of all of the country's mink.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP
first published: Feb 8, 2021 03:02 pm

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