Hamsters and dolphins can get COVID-19 tests now

These furballs are getting better medical treatment than many Americans.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, US medical professionals have been swabbing a wide swath of animal species for the novel coronavirus.

To date, the tested critter tally is at least 2,000, a number which includes everything from pet hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, ferrets, minks, wild dolphins, clouded leopards, civets and armadillos to a gorilla, an orangutan, a bush baby, an alpaca, a meerkat, a type of raccoon called a coatimundi, a type of anteater called a tamandua and at least one camel.

The overwhelming majority of positive animal test cases (80%) were in cats and dogs exhibiting strange respiratory issues after being exposed to sick owners, CNN reported based on federal records.

“We’re open to all of it,” veterinarian Sarah Hamer told CNN. Since June, Hamer and her Texas A&M University team have been testing hundreds of local pets for COVID-19. Overall they’ve found 19 positive cases of infection.

The test is intended to answer scientists’ questions about the disease’s capacity for cross-species infection and is based around different compounds. The test is different from the one used for humans.

Vets now tell the outlet that worried pet owners have begun requesting routine tests for their pets.

“We just know that coronaviruses, as a family, infect a lot of species, mostly mammal,” environmental and occupational health sciences professor Dr. Peter Rabinowitz told CNN. “It makes sense to take a species-spanning approach and look at a wide spectrum.”

Among the bigger, headline news stories to come out of testing animals for the coronavirus has been the tale of Buddy, a Staten Island German shepherd who, after becoming the first dog to test positive for COVID-19, also became the first dog to die of it. As well, there was uproar in April after a Bronx Zoo tiger tested positive for the coronavirus amid a widespread shortage of human tests.

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