‘There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans’
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed a female Siamese cat contracted coronavirus in the UK after the feline tested positive on Wednesday 22 July.
While the government announced the infection was confirmed at the Animal Plant Health Laboratory, it added there was no evidence that cats could transmit the virus to humans. In fact, based on investigations, the British environment ministry said that “all available evidence” suggested the cat had contracted the infection from its owners.
Chief veterinary officer, Prof Christine Middlemiss declared in a statement: “This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days.
“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.”
According to officials, the pet cat was initially diagnosed with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, by a private vet, however, when the sample was tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a research programme, the results came back positive.
“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,” Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England said.
“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animals, 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, ” she advised.
The ministry added that both the cat and her owners had made a full recovery with no further transmission to any other animals or people in the household being reported.
Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham explained that although domestic animals like cats and dogs can be infected with the Sars2 coronavirus, they produce very low levels of virus, which makes chances of them transmitting the virus to humans very low.
The government has also released a guide sheet to help pet owners continue to care for their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Read: German slaughterhouse reports mass outbreak of new coronavirus cases after lockdown rules eased
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