NOTICE: Confirmation of COVID-19 in Two Pet Cats in New York
At 1:30 p.m. ET today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are announcing the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Both cats had mild respiratory symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery. The statement pasted below provides additional details.
We are providing NASPHV with advance notice so you can share this information with your members, but we kindly ask that they wait to forward the announcement outside their offices until the public announcement at 1:30 p.m. ET. We are also reaching out to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials.
Washington, D.C. April 22, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
The cats lived in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. Should other animals be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, USDA will post the findings at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/SA_One_Health/sars-cov-2-animals-us. State animal health and public health officials will take the lead in making determinations about whether animals should be tested for SARS-CoV-2.
In the NY cases announced today, a veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed mild respiratory signs. No individuals in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.
Samples from the second cat were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The owner of the cat tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing signs. Another cat in the household has shown no signs of illness.
Both cats tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2 at a private veterinary laboratory, which then reported the results to state and federal officials. The confirmatory testing was conducted at NVSL and included collection of additional samples. NVSL serves as an international reference laboratory and provides expertise and guidance on diagnostic techniques, as well as confirmatory testing for foreign and emerging animal diseases. Such testing is required for certain animal diseases in the U.S. in order to comply with national and international reporting procedures. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) considers SARS-CoV-2 an emerging disease, and therefore USDA must report confirmed U.S. animal infections to the OIE.
Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected.
Until we know more, CDC recommends the following:
- 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 or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
While additional animals may test positive as infections continue in people, it is important to note that performing this animal testing does not reduce the availability of tests for humans. The U.S. government remains committed to increasing nationwide COVID-19 testing for Americans. In fact, the United States has conducted more than four million COVID-19 tests for humans, which is more tests than the following nations combined: France, the UK, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria, Australia, Sweden, and Canada.
For more information on animals and COVID-19, see:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html
For more information about testing in animals, see:
The ArVMA is closely monitoring the fast changing situation with COVID-19. We encourage you to read the information from the Arkansas Department of Health and read the links. There is a lot of information being distributed and people are scared. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.
- June 6, 2020 – Guidance for Handlers of Service and Therapy Animals
- June 5, 2020 – Arkansas Dept. of Health: COVID-19 Resources for Companion Animal Owners
- May 16, 2020 – Animal Testing Guidance
- April 23, 2020 – Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Veterinary Clinics During the COVID-19 Response | CDC
- April 20, 2020 – Testing animals for SARS-CoV-2
- April 15, 2020 – Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Animals
- Routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 is not recommended.
- The decision to test an animal (including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals) should be agreed upon using a One Health approach between appropriate local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials.
- This document provides recommendations to guide priorities for animal SARS-CoV-2 testing given limited resources.
- Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing.
- April 8, 2020 – AVMA, Using telemedicine to help care for veterinary patients during COVID-19
- April 7, 2020 – AR Dept. of Health COVID-19 Information Page
- April 7, 2020 – CDC COVID-19 Information Page
- March 31, 2020 – If You Have Animals message from the CDC
- March 25, 2020 – Dept. of Labor Families First Coronavirus Response Act Poster
- FAQs about the poster available here
- March 24, 2020 – Dept. of Labor Fact Sheet for Employees
- Significantly, in the FAQ DOL indicates the effective date for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is APRIL 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
- For the exemption for business with fewer than 50 employees when providing the leave under the act would jeopardize the viability of the business, DOL advises that for now employers should document why they believe this to be the case. DOL then indicates that more detail will be forthcoming in regulations.
- March 24, 2020 – Dept. of Labor Fact Sheet for Employers
- March 24, 2020 – Dept. of Labor FAQ
- March 24, 2020 – FAQs for Pet Owners
- March 25, 2020 – FAQs for Pet Owners
- March 23, 2020 – AVMA COVID-19 Article (Updated 4/5/2020)
- March 23, 2020 – Resources for cattle veterinarians regarding the COVID-19 outbreak
- March 17, 2020 – COVID-19-Vet-Guidance