• Pet owners are rushing to buy face masks for their furry companions over fears they could catch COVID-19 virus.
  • The World Health Organization said their is no evidence to suggest pets can catch the virus, however, one expert in China believes it’s possible.
  • Images of cats and dogs wearing the protective gear have circulated across social media sites.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sales of face masks for pets have gone up due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, but how likely it is that furry friends will be infected with the virus is still unclear.

While the World Health Organization has previously stated that there is no evidence that would suggest pets are likely to catch the novel coronavirus, one Chinese expert says they can, Newsweek reported.

Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist was quoted in the China Daily, a state-run English-language newspaper, warning the public to keep their pets away from infected individuals. Her remarks were made in an interview with China Central Television last month.

The China Daily reported Lanjuan said: “If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets.”

A woman in Wuhan in a mask with her dog

Foto: A woman wears a mask while carrying a dog in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.sourceGetty Images

However, the World Health Organization said there is currently no evidence that suggests pets could get the new COVID-19 virus. They did recommend that people wash their hands after contact with their pets since bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella can be transmitted between furry friends and humans.

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Robert Kim-Farley, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, told Business Insider while it may be possible for the virus – which researchers believe jumped from animals to humans – to spread to pets, there is no evidence to suggest it will at this point in time.

Dog with mask in Suzhou, China

Foto: A dog in Suzhou, China goes for walk with their owner, both are completely masked.sourceWeChat

While dogs are capable of contracting some coronavirus strains such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, the American Kennel Association said this new coronavirus does not appear to be a threat to your four legged friends.

Despite that, people, especially in China are still rushing to get masks for their cats and dogs. Zhou Tianxiao, who sells dog face masks, told the Daily Mail that his sales increased from 150 a month to 50 a day.

Corgi wearing face mask in Taiwan

Foto: sourceNewsflare/Reuters

USA Today reported that some companies are running out of masks. Kirby Holmes, owner and CEO of K9 Mask told USA Today that they’ve filled orders from Wuhan and have seen a 300 to 400% increase increase in business.

“We would usually average five to 10 units a day. We’ve sold 110 to 130 units in just the past few days,” Holmes told USA Today.

It’s not just dogs that owner want to protect. Many images of cats wearing makeshift face masks have circulated online.