A domestic cat has become the first animal to test positive for the coronavirus in the United Kingdom, according to a news release from the British government.
Christine Middlemiss, the U.K.'s chief veterinary officer said cat became infected from its owner, who also tested positive for the virus. Both have recovered.
"This is a very rare event with animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days," she said, according to The Hill, adding there is no evidence of animal-to-human transmission.
According to BBC News, an animal's fur can harbor the virus if it comes into contact with someone who is infected. There have been very few confirmed cases reported elsewhere in the world.
Daniella Dos Santos, who is president of the British Veterinary Association told BBC News:
"Our advice to pet owners who have COVID-19 or who are self-isolating with symptoms remains to restrict contact with their pets as a precautionary measure at to practice good hygiene, including regular hand washing."
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced two domestic cats in New York developed a mild respiratory illness and tested positive for the virus in late April, according to The Blaze. In one case, the owner was diagnosed with COVID-19 before the cat exhibited symptoms.
The first COVID-19 case of a big cat at the Bronx zoo was reported April 5, according to ABC News. Staff at the Bronx zoo, which has been shuttered since March 16, reported a four-year-old female Malayan tiger tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently more sick animals were tested, bringing the total of cats infected to eight, including five tigers and three lions.
Dr. Casey Behravesh, a CDC official, said in a statement, according to The Blaze:
"We don't want people to be afraid of pets. There's no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people."
The CDC does not recommend routine testing of pets at this time, but offers the following guidelines:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals and people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or other public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
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