Here is what preliminary data says about COVID-19 transmission between humans and pets.
A pet cat is the first animal in the United Kingdom confirmed to have been infected with the new coronavirus, health officials said.
The cat’s test results were confirmed last week at a lab in Weybridge in South East England, Christine Middlemiss, the U.K.’s chief veterinary officer, said in a statement Monday.
Middlemiss said the cat had mild symptoms and has since recovered. Officials believe the cat’s owner, who was also sick with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, transmitted the virus to their pet.
“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,” Middlemiss said in a statement.
Although it was the first confirmed case of an animal infection in the U.K., animals in other parts of the world have also been infected with SARS-CoV-2.
In early April, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo was the first animal in the United States to test positive for COVID-19 after one of its caretakers was believed to have transmitted the virus to the animal.
Two cats in New York were the first pets in the United States to test positive after suffering from minor respiratory symptoms. The animals were from separate areas, and health officials believe humans infected both of them.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs, cats and some other animals can be infected with the new virus, but health officials do not know how many animals can be infected and more research is needed on how it spreads among animals.
Scientists are still researching the origin of the new virus, too, but some believe the virus originated in bats then jumped to an intermediary species before spreading to humans at an animal market in Wuhan, China.
Still, the CDC says, “the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low,” and the primary way the virus spread is from person to person through respiratory droplets.
The CDC does not recommend testing your pet for COVID-19 at this time, but it says that people sick with COVID-19 should treat their pets like people and limit contact with them if possible. Similarly, pet owners should limit the contact they allow their pets to have with people outside of their households.
In May, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that cats can transmit the coronavirus to other cats.
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