Cat tests positive for COVID-19 in UK's first animal infection

Cat tests positive for COVID-19 in UK's first animal infection

Palestinian vet Imad Morad treats a cat at his clinic in Gaza City
A cat being treated at a vet's clinic in Gaza City Oct 7, 2019. (File photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

LONDON: A pet cat in the United Kingdom has tested positive for COVID-19 in the first animal infection reported in the UK, the government said on Monday (Jul 27).

It is believed to have contracted the coronavirus from its owners.

"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 government said on its website.

It added that the cat and its owners have since made a full recovery.

"This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days," said the UK’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss.

"We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change."

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A private vet had initially diagnosed the cat with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for COVID-19 as part of a research programme. 

So far, a small number of animals, including cats, have been found to have COVID-19 in Europe, North America and Asia.

Authorities said there is no cause for alarm.

"At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans," said medical director at Public Health England Yvonne Doyle.

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

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Source: CNA/nh