As Covid-19 cases surge in the US, one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in their pets.
Since June, Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted Covid-19. They've swabbed dogs and cats, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection.
"We're open to all of it," said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.
One pet that tested positive was Phoenix, a 7-year-old part-Siamese cat owned by Kaitlyn Romoser, who works in a university lab. Romoser, 23, was confirmed to have Covid-19 twice, once in March and again in September. The second time she was much sicker, she said, and Phoenix was her constant companion.
If I would have known animals were just getting it everywhere, I would have tried to distance myself, but he will not distance himself from me," Romoser said.
"He sleeps in my bed with me. There was absolutely no social distancing."