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  • Posted Tuesday December 5, 2023

TGen Teams Up with Phoenix Children’s and Others to Study SARS-CoV-2 Exposure and Transmission in Dogs

Goal is to learn more about how COVID-19 impacts dogs living and working in diverse settings

FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Dec. 5, 2023 — Scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), part of City of Hope, recently launched a comprehensive surveillance study aimed at determining potential exposures and risk factors leading to SARS-CoV-2 transmission and infection in dogs that live and work in different settings.

Led by researchers in TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, the study has already enrolled 300 of its intended 1,000 dogs (e.g., companion dogs, dogs in shelters, police and scent detection dogs, dogs residing in tribal communities, and therapy dogs) across Arizona and the Southwest. This research is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support One Health surveillance and coordination. 

The TGen One Health team recently partnered with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to enroll both animal-assisted therapy dogs and security dogs from the hospital.

Many studies have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, can infect dogs, but there are no reported cases of dogs transmitting the virus to people. This new investigation builds off previous work conducted by TGen to assess the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on dogs and other animals. This study specifically focuses on the types of interactions that dogs have with humans, their environments, and other species, including companion animals, livestock, and wildlife.  

“We have teamed up with One Health collaborators at the local and national levels to better understand the risks different populations of dogs face in their day-to-day lives,” said Hayley Yaglom, MS, MPH, a genomic epidemiologist who leads TGen North’s One Health team and this study. These collaborators include dog owners/handlers, veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, academic partners, therapy dog organizations, and canine training centers. 

Study participation for dogs includes collection of a nasal swab and a small blood sample by a trained veterinary professional. TGen North scientists test the samples for the virus and for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Dog owners/handlers are asked to complete a one-time survey about their dog(s), including demographic information, health history, interactions with people and other animals, and the home environment of the dog(s).

Yaglom added, “We anticipate translating our findings into tailored guidance for public health, veterinary professionals, and people interacting with dogs in various settings. We value the engagement of the One Health community and appreciate the willingness of dog owners and handlers to participate in this research.”

If you are interested in participating in this study, please email our team at [email protected].  

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