Los Angeles County Offering Free COVID Tests For Pets
In this photo illustration a cat seen next to a Covid-19 test vial. For the first time three cats and one dog have been tested positive with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease in the Netherlands.
Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Los Angeles County is now offering free COVID testing for pets who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The Veterinary Public Health Department announced the free testing earlier this week that was promoted on Twitter by the L.A. County Department of Public Health on Saturday.

“Your pet may be eligible for free SARS-CoV-2 testing if they were exposed to a human or animal with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19,” the tweet shared, offering a link for more information.

Funding for the new program has been made available by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A statement from the health department noted, “Our goal is to test many different species of animals including wildlife (deer, bats, raccoons), pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, pocket pets), marine mammals (seals), and more.”

Pets are eligible for free pet COVID testing if they were “exposed to either a human or another animal with COVID-19 (for example your dog lives in a household of people recently diagnosed with COVID-19).” A pet may also meet the requirements if they have “symptoms of COVID-19 and was exposed to either a human or another animal with COVID-19 (for example, you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick).”

As of August 18, 177 tests had been conducted in Los Angeles County. Zero positive cases were reported.

The announcement comes as the daily number of positive cases for Los Angeles County on Friday reached 4,274, with 13 more deaths. A total of 940 people in the county were hospitalized with the virus.

The Omicron variant is responsible for the recent case increases, according to a new release from the health department.

“The Omicron variant continues to account for 100% of sequenced specimens and the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron remains the most predominant subvariant,” the release stated. “In the week ending July 30, 88% of all sequenced specimens in LA County were BA.5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, across the country, as of the week ending August 13, the BA.5 subvariant accounted for 89% of specimens.”

Over the past week, positive case numbers have declined from 10.7% to 10.1%, according to the department. The report stated that 77% of the county’s adult population had been vaccinated, along with 35% of children 5-11 years old.

The CDC says that the risk of animals spreading COVID is low, but the virus can spread from people to animals during close contact. People with COVID are recommended to avoid contact with animals, including livestock and wildlife.

Despite the low risk of the coronavirus among animals, the CDC reports that several types have been infected, including pets like cats and dogs, wildlife such as various types of deer, and animals in zoos and sanctuaries.

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