Two domestic cats in Texas tested positive for the coronavirus. Texas A&M University researchers said both felines had no symptoms but lived with people who had also tested positive. This confirms previous reports that pets who live in high-risk environments can contract the disease.
According to The Hill, the researchers, headed by Dr. Sarah Hamer, are conducting investigations on how SARS-CoV-2 infects pets and if can they spread the virus to other animals or humans.
“By actively screening pets who may not be symptomatic and who are living with people who have tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Hamer’s project provides important new information about the transmission pathways of the virus,” said Dr. John August, interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M.
In late July, a pet cat in the U.K. was reportedly infected by the virus. A few days later, Buddy, a 7-year-old German shepherd became the first dog to die from the virus. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that two domestic cats developed a mild respiratory illness and tested positive for the virus. In one case, the owner was diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to the cat exhibiting symptoms, according to The Blaze.
The first COVID-19 case of a big cat contracting the virus was reported in April at the Bronx zoo. Staff reported that a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger tested positive for COVID-19. Subsequently more sick animals were tested, bringing the total of cats infected to eight, including five tigers and three lions.
Dr. Casey Barton 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 a 6-foot distance 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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