Can coronavirus spread to pets? Are you immune after you’ve been infected?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

Dr. McGeorge is answering your coronavirus questions.

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowldging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Can virus spread to pets?

Based on a study of genetics, the current epidemic of COVID-19, caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus, came from bats. Many people are naturally concerned about their pets.

Viewers from Dearborn, Troy and many other cities asked of the virus can spread to cats or dogs.

While we don’t have complete studies on this, the short answer is no, because it’s a different type of coronavirus than is usually found in cats and dogs.

Coronavirus comes in alpha and beta forms. The alpha form is what usually infects pets, and the COVID-19 virus is a beta coronavirus from bats that our pets can’t catch.

You might have heard that a dog in Hong Kong owned by a coronavirus patient tested “a weak positive” for the virus. That dog is being studied and hasn’t shown any symptoms or indication that it is infected.

The current explanation for the test result is that the dog might have been contaminated by its owners’ positive secretions and wasn’t infected.

Are you immune after being infected?

Another question from viewers in Ann Arbor and Troy is, “Are you immune after you’ve been infected?”

The answer is yes. Once our immune system fights off a virus, it generally confers immunity to that specific virus. What isn’t known is how long that immunity will last.

Some viruses don’t stimulate a robust enough response for long-term immunity. You might only be protected for a short time.

Experts don’t know if immunity would be highly specific or broad enough to protect a person if the virus underwent a slight mutation. Both of those issues need more research, especially as a vaccine is being developed.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.