Two pet cats in New York tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making them the first household companions to contract the disease in the US.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that both had mild respiratory symptoms, and they are on the road to recovery.
While it is suspected that humans can infect animals, federal officials clarify that there are no evidence that suggests that pets can spread the deadly disease in the United States.
In the statement, they said, “There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”
The news comes after some tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus, and the cats’ findings add to a small number of confirmed cases of the deadly virus in animals around the world.
CDC official who works on human-animal health connections, Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, said, “We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets.”
However, the CDC continues to continue to plead to pet owners to prevent their pets from interacting with people or animals outside their homes, and keep their pets indoors.
The owner of one of the cats tested positive for COVID-19 before the cat became ill, while the household of the other cat did not have any signs of the disease.
Dr. Jane Rooney of the USDA pointed our that coronavirus testing for pets is not recommended unless an animal has been exposed to an infected person, and stated to show symptoms of the disease.
She also confirmed that should veterinarians believe that testing is warranted, they are supposed to contact state officials for the final decision.
Barton Behravesh said that coronavirus testing in animals are done at veterinary labs and utilize different chemicals compared to human tests.