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British cat becomes the first animal in the country to test positive for COVID-19

Cat at nursing home
Coronavirus infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
(Los Angeles Times)

According to the U.K. government, a cat has become the first animal in the U.K. to test positive for COVID-19.

“The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK,” an official statement from the British government announced Monday morning.

The infected kitty was confirmed as positive for the virus on July 22 in Weybridge, a wealthy suburb of London. This marks the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the U.K.

The announcement goes on to state that “there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners,” but it also advises that people wash their hands thoroughly before and after contact with animals.

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The owners of the unnamed cat had reportedly previously tested positive for COVID-19, and both the pet and its owners have since made a full recovery.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.

A dog in Hong Kong tested ‘weakly’ positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but may not have contracted it. What does this mean for pet owners?

“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”

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Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, added that the “infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round.”

The animal reportedly contracted the feline herpes virus, a common respiratory infection in cats, but as part of a research program the blood sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 and subsequently confirmed the cat was also infected with the virus.

In May, two cats in the U.S., who lived in two separate areas of New York state, were similarly found to be infected with COVID-19. Both had a mild respiratory illness and made a full recovery.

In April, five tigers and three lions contracted the virus at the Bronx Zoo in New York. According to the zoo, they had been coughing.

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Coronavirus infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”


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