On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization removed content explaining that there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats can be infected with the new Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

This does not mean that they’ve changed their mind. There is still no evidence that pets may become infected.

The question was on their page titled “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters“.

The question on their website read “Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?”

It is possible they removed this content as a pet could indeed spread Coronavirus. Not that a pet would be infected, but, a pet’s fur could have the virus on it if an infected person sneezed on the pet. That said, a pencil, coffee cup, remote control or a door handle could have Coronavirus as well.

This is what the page read:

At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.

Here’s a screenshot I have here of the page before they removed it:

Screenshot of W.H.O.'s page about pets and coronavirus

Screenshot of W.H.O.’s page about pets and coronavirus

This can all be verified via the Wayback Machine here.

Hopefully the removal of the page does not lead to any conspiracy theories. Indeed, Hong Kong reported that a German Shepherd tested positive for Coronavirus, but as stated above, anything could “test positive” and that doesn’t mean there’s an infection.

Here’s a copy of that graphic – feel free to share:

mythbuster pets

Update: After publishing this article, I discovered an article on Quartz, who also noticed the page was revised. The WHO told Quartz in an email that, “currently, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats have infected humans with Covid-19.” The author states “The revised stance comes in the wake of an infected dog being found in Hong Kong.”


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