Arizona couple speaks out after learning man passed COVID-19 onto his pets

Can COVID-19 spread from people to pets?

The answer, according to TGen, is yes, and the first recorded case is in the Phoenix area.

Max Kraust, a scout for the San Diego Padres, had to leave baseball behind when he caught COVID-19 in March 2021.

"Super tired and lethargic, and it took about a month for me to feel semi-normal again," said Kraust.

Then, Kraust and his wife, Kyla, noticed their dog and cat, named Ollie and Pua, had similar symptoms at about the same time.

"He was more tired than normal, and he did have a little bit of a runny nose probably two days after, max," said Kyla.

Later, Kraust got a call from the health department, asking if he wanted to be part of a study to see if COVID-19 can spread from people to pets, and that's when a team from TGen stepped up to the plate.

The team tested Kraust, Ollie and Pua, and the findings show both pets did catch COVID-19, and had the exact same strain as Kraust did.

"We were able to learn that even though this wasn't a special variant, that the strain of COVID-19 virus was identical amongst the owner and the two pets," said TGen Epidemiologist Hayley Yaglom.

Yaglom says TGen is testing 24 more pets to see if COVID-19 spread the same way, and to get a better understanding of how often this happens.

"We don’t have all the genetic evidence in place yet, but we can deduce that yes, these other animals that have tested positive in our program have definitely got the virus from being exposed to their owners," said Yaglom.

As for Kraust, he is fully recovered, and he is back on the baseball diamond, looking for the next major-leaguers.

"It’s weird to think that we might, or I guess we were, the first scientifically-proven transmission between human and animals, but at the time, we didn’t think much of it," said Kraust.

TGen hasn’t found evidence of the virus spreading from animals to people beyond the first likely case that came from a bat. So far, there is only one known pet death from COVID-19: a dog in Arizona that had other health issues.

TGen COVID-19 pet study

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CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)