A study conducted by the University of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health analyzed the main risk factors for the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during the national lock in Spain, including going to work or living with diagnosed patients COVID-19.
The authors warn of the need for dog lovers to take extreme hygiene measures with regard to their pets, as it is not yet clear whether the owners are infected, as the animal acted as a host of the virus and transmitted it directly, or whether they took it up indirectly due to the increased exposure of the dog to vehicles of the virus (ie objects or surfaces where the virus lies).
“From a scientific point of view, there is no justification for closing playgrounds to prevent infections, while dog parks have the right to remain open when there are many sites that can act as SARS vehicles. CoV-2, ”The authors observe.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and the Andalusian School of Public Health analyzed the main risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission during the national blockade in Spain, between March and May 2020.
The study published in the journal Environmental research, revealed that living with a dog and buying basic products in the supermarket with home delivery are two of the socio-demographic variables (of the analyzed ones) that most increased the risk of COVID-19 infection during the period under review – by 78% in the case of living with a dog and 94% in that of home delivery to a supermarket.
The authors warn dog owners about the need to take extreme hygiene measures with respect to their pets, as it is not yet clear whether the owners are infected because the animal acted as a host of the virus (and transmitted it) or due to the presence of him on a walk in public.
As Christina Sanchez Gonzalez, a researcher at the UGR Biomedical Research Center and lead author of this work, explains, “in view of the rapid spread of the virus even during blocking, we consider it important to study the socio-demographic characteristics, habits and comorbidities of the infection. with SARS-CoV-2 in order to implement effective prevention strategies. “
To this end, researchers have set up a study to capture variables of interest during the blockade period that can help explain the exponential spread of the virus, despite the very restrictive mobility conditions applied at national level in Spain.
A study based on 2086 individuals
This study, carried out throughout Spain, seeks to shed light on other possible routes of transmission of COVID-19, risk factors and the effectiveness of hygiene measures recommended by the authorities to identify critical points of exposure to the virus and in this regard. way minimizes its spread – not only in this pandemic, but also for any future events that may endanger public health.
Based on a sample of 2,086 individuals, 41% of the surveyed population were between the ages of 40 and 54 and were studying for a degree (44%) or a doctoral student (32%). This team presented a disease spread of 4.7%.
The results showed that the risk of suffering from COVID-19 was 60 times higher among those living with a patient with COVID-19. In addition, of all the socio-demographic variables analyzed, the one with the most powerful effect in terms of increasing the risk of contracting the disease (by up to 78%) lives with a dog and takes it for a walk. In contrast, the presence of cats or other types of pets did not have a significant effect on the spread of the disease.
“The results of our study warn of increased infection among dog owners and the reason for this greater prevalence is still unclear. “Given the current lack of resources to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 in humans, the possibility of diagnosing it in dogs is extremely unlikely,” said Sanchez Gonzalez.
These results indicate that coexistence with dogs is a strong risk factor for COVID-19 infection, although further studies are needed to determine whether the reason for this sharp increase in the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is due to transmission. between humans and dogs, to the dog acting as a carrier of the virus, or to increased contact with other carriers of the virus (ie objects or surfaces where the virus is present). The latter can be caused by greater exposure to the virus due to the unhygienic behavior and habits of dogs when they are on the street and their subsequent return home.
“At the international level, there are several studies that have obtained results similar to ours regarding coronavirus infection in dogs, but it is necessary to delve deeper into this issue and determine whether this spread of the virus among dog owners is due to one reason or another, ”explains the UGR researcher.
Sanchez Gonzalez warns that “in the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation and these measures should be applied to dogs that, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of virus infection. . “
The researcher also points out that “from a scientific point of view, there is no justification for closing playgrounds to prevent infections, while dog-walking parks have the right to remain open when there are multiple sites that can act as vehicles for SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, we should not rule out the possibility of the virus being transmitted through faecal substances. “
Disinfection of products from supermarkets
In this study, the effect of some variables – gender, age, educational level, type of residence, household size, cohabitation with children or adolescents, presence of workers among household members, presence of domestic workers in the home during locking, or having a home pet other than dog – found to have no statistical significance.
The most effective hygiene measure to reduce the spread of the disease is to disinfect products purchased from the market after returning home (which reduces the risk by 94%). It has been found to be more effective than other hygiene measures, such as the use of face masks, gloves, disinfection with ethanol or bleach, disinfection of shoes and washing clothes when returning home.
Among the mobility variables studied, those with the greatest effect in terms of increasing the spread of the virus were working outside the home (which increased the risk by 76%) and the use of public transport (especially the underground system or tram network). A higher prevalence of the disease was also found among respondents who bought their main products in a supermarket and then used the home delivery service compared to those who brought their own home for shopping (the risk increased by 94 % in the previous group).
The authors emphasize that this is an epidemiological study that neither deals with the mechanisms around the virus nor establishes causal relationships. This was a descriptive study in which the selected variables were statistically related to distribution.
Reference: “The spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain: hygiene habits, socio-demographic profile, mobility patterns and comorbidities” by Miguel Rodríguez-Baranco, Lorenzo Rivas-Garcia, José L. Quiles, Daniel Redondo-Sanchez, Pilar Aranda Ramirez, Juan Llopis-Gonzalez, Maria José Sanchez Pérez and Cristina Sanchez-González, 22 September 2020, Environmental research.
DOI: 10.1016 / j.envres.2020.110223