Pet owners in Los Angeles County are being offered free COVID-19 testing for animals and pets, despite no recent cases of the disease in animals in the area.
Veterinary Public Health has received funding from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the evidence of the disease in animals.
“Our goal is to test many different animal species, including wild animals (deer, bats, raccoons), domestic animals (dogs, cats, hamsters, pocket pets), marine mammals (seals) and more,” LA Public Health tweeted.
So far, 177 animals have been tested, including popular pets such as dogs, cats, hamsters and rabbits.
LA County has also started collecting bats, rats, opossums, sea lions and squirrels — but none have tested positive for COVID.
The government-funded agency says it is offering the animal testing to “learn more about the significance of COVID-19 in human, animal and environmental relationships.”
It’s unclear what treatments, if any, will be offered to animals that test positive, with LA County saying COVID symptoms in animals are identical to those commonly found in human patients.
Los Angeles County pet owners are being offered free COVID-19 testing for their pets, despite no recent cases of the disease being recorded in animals in the area
A person wearing personal protective equipment holds a dog that has had a swab taken for a coronavirus disease. Archive photo from February 2021
So far, 177 animals have been tested, including 107 bats, 12 raccoons, 7 squirrels, 12 coyotes, 6 opossums, 1 rat and 6 sea lions
LA Public Health’s Twitter account disabled commentary on the generous pet testing offer, but that didn’t stop others on social media from gently mocking the idea.
“How many ways can they waste money?” asked Zaroda.
“If you’ve disabled comments, you’ll know everything you need to know lmao,” wrote John B.
“I’m sure the line is around the corner as this is in LA,” wrote another Twitter user.
“Next unicorns,” joked one follower.
“I’m not sticking that swab up my cat’s nose,” said another.
LA Public Health’s Twitter account disabled commentary on the generous pet testing offer, but that didn’t stop others on social media from gently mocking the idea
The offer comes just days after the CDC relaxed its guidelines for those exposed to COVID-19
In the past, the health agency advised those who had not been vaccinated to quarantine for five days after exposure. Once the symptoms subsided, the quarantine could end.
Now, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to quarantine after exposure, but are advised to mask for 10 days or until they test negative.
“We are stronger as a nation today, with more tools – such as vaccination, boosters and treatments – to protect ourselves and our communities from serious illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Greta Massetti, the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report author, in a press release issued by the CDC.
“We also better understand how to protect people from exposure to the virus, such as wearing high-quality masks, testing and improved ventilation. This guideline recognizes that the pandemic is not over yet, but it also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer seriously disrupts our daily lives,” Massetti said.
An employee will measure a cat’s temperature in a cat cafe in May 2020 amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in pets