What You Need to Know About How the Coronavirus Effects Pets

What You Need to Know About How the Coronavirus Effects Pets

Gerald Lombardo
Posted by Gerald Lombardo
Updated on

The CDC and United States Department of Agriculture has announced several animals, including house cats, are capable of contracting the coronavirus. While this is nothing to panic about, it is important to remember that not only you, but also your pets need to social distance while South Florida continues the fight to "flatten the curve."

Here are some of the key points from the CDC:

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others cause illness in certain types of animals.

  • Some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes be spread to people, but this is rare.

  • We do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The first infections were thought to be linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now primarily spreading from person to person.

  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

  • We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

  • The first case of an animal testing positive for the virus in the United States was in a tiger that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City.

  • CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.

  • Treat pets as you would other human family members – 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.

  • Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and the role animals may play in the spread of COVID-19.

  • This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals Frequently Asked Questions.

Risk of animals spreading the virus

Some coronaviruses that infect animals can spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are examples of diseases caused by coronaviruses that originated in animals and spread to people. This is what is suspected to have happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19. However, we do not know the exact source of this virus. Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of COVID-19. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person. The coronavirus most similar to the virus causing COVID-19 is the one that causes SARS.

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. Recent studies show that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

Protect pets if you are sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people. Until we know more about this virus, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals.

  • When possible, have another member of your household 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.

If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.

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