The CDC and USDA say that there is "no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States"

By Ashley Boucher
April 22, 2020 05:05 PM
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Credit: Maya Alleruzzo/AP/Shutterstock

Two cats in New York have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — marking the first pets in the United States to contract the virus.

The cats live in different areas of the state, the CDC and USDA announced in a joint statement Wednesday and are expected to make a full recovery.

The first cat was tested by a veterinarian after it showed “mild respiratory signs.” None of the cat’s owners had tested positive for COVID-19, so it is suspected that the cat could have contracted the virus from “mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.”

The second cat showed “signs of respiratory illness,” before being tested, and its owner had tested positive for COVID-19 before their pets showed signs of the virus. However, another cat in the home “has shown no signs of illness.”

The private vet lab where the cats were tested reported their results to state and federal officials. The CDC and USDA said that routine testing of animals is not recommended at this time.

The statement added that while information about COVID-19 is still emerging, “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States.”

“Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” the statement said. “Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected.”

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council echoed that sentiment in a statement Wednesday.

“It is important that the public remain confident in the USDA and CDC guidance that there continues to be no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States and therefore there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” the council said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have safely brought pets into their homes both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the human-animal bond continues to provide them with comfort, stress relief and other scientifically-proven emotional and physical health benefits during this unprecedented crisis,” the statement continued.

“The responsible pet care community is committed to protecting the health and well-being of humans and pets, and urges everyone to follow CDC’s advice to keep pets from interacting with people or animals outside your household, and to consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pets’ health.”

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