SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – The University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) hosted a webinar on Friday on the ability of animals to transmit infectious diseases to humans.
The “bats, monkeys and dogs, oh my god!” Was a free virtual webinar presented by Dr. Connie Austin. Officials said she was the state’s public health epidemiologist and veterinarian. During the webinar, Dr Austin spoke about several infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans through contact with exotic animals, importation of animals, and travel around the world. The diseases mentioned were SARS, MERS and COVID-19.
According to Dr Austin, there have been several cases of animals catching COVID-19 because of their close contact with humans. However, there have been no cases of humans having contracted COVID from animals.
âWith COVID-19, there have been a variety of infections in zoos. These have occurred in feline species such as lions and tigers as well as in non-human primates. More recently, the gorillas at the Atlantic Zoo have been affected by COVID, âsaid Dr Austin. âThey’ve put measures in place to prevent it, but they believe it was an asymptomatic gatekeeper who brought it on (COVID). There are cats and dogs that have been infected (with COVID) but this is a very low number. In Illinois, we only have 2 cats that tested positive. COVID does not appear to be transmitted from these species to humans. ”
Dr Austin encourages people to get vaccinated against COVID to avoid severe symptoms and reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to other people and animals.
Anyone interested in watching the webinar can find it on the ISU website.