Household cat confirmed with virus that causes COVID-19

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St. Paul, Minn. – A Carver County cat was confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, seven days after its owner was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. There is also a dog in the household and the attending veterinarian reports it remains healthy at this time. The veterinarian said the cat was healthy five days after the initial clinic visit. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Minnesota Department of Health recommended the cat remain isolated at home for 14 days following the positive test results.

The veterinarian reported that the cat presented at the clinic with a 105F temperature and symptoms consistent with upper respiratory illness. The veterinarian chose to collect a sample for SARS-CoV-2 testing based on the symptoms and the fact that the owner was confirmed to have COVID-19. All veterinary clinic staff reported wearing personal protective equipment including face masks when interacting with the owner and handling the cat to limit any potential spread of the virus.

“At this time, there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading COVID-19 to people or other animals” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Beth Thompson. “It’s always important to isolate ill pets from healthy people and pets when possible, just as ill people should be isolated from healthy people and pets. If you suspect your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian.”

While this is the first confirmed animal detection in Minnesota, it’s not the first in the U.S. The USDA announced cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in April in two pet cats in New York. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. The USDA is tracking all positive results in animals on its website.

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. Ask another member of your household to 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. For more information about the virus in animals and recommendations for pet owners, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/animals/pets-other-animals.html.

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 Board of Animal Health created this additional information about testing animals for the SARS-CoV-2.

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The mission of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is to protect the health of the state’s domestic animals through education and cooperation with veterinarians, producers, owners and communities.