Pet Cat Becomes First Animal To Test Positive For Coronavirus In UK
A pet cat in England has become the first animal in the UK to test positive for coronavirus.
Christine Middlemiss, the Chief Veterinary Officer, confirmed the news following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, on Wednesday, July 22.
While it’s the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 strain in an animal in the country, government guidance urges that there’s no evidence the pet transmitted the disease to its owners, nor is there information to indicate domestic animals can transmit coronavirus to their owners.
According to the government news release, ‘all available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19’.
Both the cat and its owners have since fully recovered, without any transmission to other animals or people in the same household. Please note that there are no images of the specific cat at the time of writing, so the photos in the article are only examples.
This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days. 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.
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, urged that this finding ‘shouldn’t be a cause for alarm’. She added: ‘The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.’
Initially, the cat was tested by a private vet who diagnosed it with feline herpes virus, a respiratory virus common in the animals. However, the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 – the virus credited with causing COVID-19 in humans – and later confirmed by the APHA laboratory.
Doyle added: ‘In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.’
The case has since been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health, echoing a very limited number of confirmed cases in pets in the US, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong.
Professor Margaret Hosie from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, whose team was part of the research into the cat, also clarified to Sky News: ‘The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household.’
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