Cat thought to have contracted Covid from its owners

If you have a cat, you may have been alarmed to read of Covid found in a pet cat, as confirmed by the he UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer. The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge on Wednesday 22 July. There is no cause to get rid of your cat or to be worried about it transmitting Covid-19. If anything, pet cats should worry more about their humans regarding transmission.

Although this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.

The advice from Public Health England is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

All available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household.

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Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said:

This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

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.

In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

The pet cat was initially diagnosed by a private vet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a research programme. Follow-up samples tested at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV2 which is the virus known to cause COVID-19 in humans.

Pet owners can access the latest government guidance on how to continue to care for their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international commitments. There have been a very small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.

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