It is good news that we continue to obtain more information about SARS-CoV-2 and pet animals! I am sure most of you have heard about the two cats in New York that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 as well as five tigers and three African lions at the Bronx Zoo also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
The pet cats were from separate households, and both had mild upper respiratory disease. One of the cats came from a household that was known COVID-19 positive, but the other cat may have picked it up from mildly infected or asymptomatic people.
The big cats at the Bronx Zoo, seem to have been infected by a Zoo staff member that was asymptomatically infected, before that person started developing symptoms. All eight of the cats are doing well, and they are reported to be feeling better, with greatly reduced coughing. They big cats were showing signs of mild respiratory disease.
All of this information is very interesting, but not overly surprising as we knew that cats could be infected by the virus, and are able to transmit it to other cats. However, it does not change the recommendations that we have been making regarding COVID-19:
- COVID-19 is almost exclusively a disease of people.
- There is still no evidence of dog or cat to human transmission of the virus causing COVID-19.
- If you are sick with COVID-19, you should try to avoid contact with your pets.
- Your own pet has almost no risk to you. There is no evidence that a person has ever been infected from a pet.
- It is unlikely that the virus is on pet hair and transmitted that way to people, although we do not know for sure. Therefore, when you are walking your dog, you should avoid allowing strangers to pet it.
- Social Distancing works for pets too!
- If you have COVID-19, and your dog or cat shows signs of respiratory disease, please notify your veterinarian.
- Your cat should stay inside to minimize exposure to the virus, and likely more importantly, other infectious diseases.
- There is probably not a large need to test a pet for SARS-CoV-2. If a pet gets the disease, it probably became infected from a human in the household. It will not change anything as far as treatment, and it puts other people at risk in regard to exposure if the pet is transported for testing.
If someone in your household is ill, or you have been exposed to someone that is ill with COVID-19, please self-quarantine until the recommended time has passed.