BATON ROUGE – If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks and think your pet might also have the virus, you can now get them tested for free.
“People worry about it,” said Dr. Udeni Balasuriya of LSU.
Dr. Balasuriya is head of the laboratory at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. The school is offering the free tests as part of a research project along with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control.
“This is part of surveillance,” Dr. Balasuriya said. “You want to understand what role animals play in the spread of this disease.”
The vet school received a $35,000 grant for the project and has already tested more than two dozen pets. Five of them have come back positive for the virus.
It’s more likely that owners will give the virus to their cat or dog because it is extremely rare for animals to transmit the virus to people. Pets may even have COVID without their owners knowing.
“Most of the animals don’t show any clinical signs,” Dr. Balasuriya.
COVID tests for animals don’t come cheap, either. It costs more than $150 for a private lab to conduct the tests, plus whatever a veterinarian charges to extract those samples.
The research project wraps up in December.