Two pet cats in New York state have tested positive for the coronavirus, the United States Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday.
The two cats displayed symptoms of a respiratory illness but are expected to recover from COVID-19, the USDA said. They are the first confirmed companion pets within the United States to contract the virus.
It’s believed the cats contracted the virus from someone in their household or neighborhood, although no one in the household of the first cat had tested positive for COVID-19, the USDA said. The owner of the second cat had tested positive for the virus. A second cat in the household shows no signs of the virus, the USDA said.
While the cats may have caught the virus from humans, it’s unlikely the pets can pass it to their owners.
“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets,” Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections told the Associated Press. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”
The two cats live in separate areas of New York state, the USDA said, but didn’t provide specific locations.
Testing of animals for COVID-19 isn’t recommended at this time, the USDA said.
Prior to the two cats testing positive, the CDC recommended people treat pets as you would other human family members when it comes to the virus. Do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets, the CDC said.
There is no evidence, the CDC said, of pets playing a role in spreading the virus in the United States.
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