KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Concern for pet owners grew across the United States after two cats in New York became the first known house pets to test positive for coronavirus disease 2019. Meanwhile, seven more animals tested positive at the Bronx Zoo.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first case of an animal testing positive for the virus in the United States was in a tiger that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City. The CDC stated they were aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
However, the CDC said at this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
The CDC advised pet owners to treat pets as any other human family members. This included restricting pet interaction with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household is sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
More guidelines from the CDC for pet owners:
IDEXX Laboratories, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software, announced the availability to provide veterinarians a COVID-19 test for pets.
The company advised veterinarians to order the test after consulting a public health authority, and only if other common infections have been ruled out in pets showing symptoms, as well as those living in a household with an infected person.
The company said it would make the test available to veterinarians in North America first and then roll out across most of the world in the coming weeks. IDEXX said it has conducted over 5,000 tests in cats, dogs, and horses with respiratory symptoms and has found no positive results.
The CDC said further studies were needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and the role animals may play in the spread of the virus.
The CDC concluded this was a rapidly evolving situation and information would be updated as it became available.