FDA Coronavirus Q&As for Consumers

The FDA is working to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and keep you and your family informed on the latest developments. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from consumers about your pets:
Q: What animal species can get COVID-19?
A: We currently don’t fully understand how COVID-19 affects different animal species. We are aware of a very small number of pets, including dogs and cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19.
On April 22, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The cats lived in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
A tiger at a zoo in New York has also tested positive for the virus; it was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in an animal in the United States.
Recent research shows that ferrets, cats, and golden Syrian hamsters can be experimentally infected with the virus and can spread the infection to other animals of the same species in laboratory settings. Pigs, chickens, and ducks did not become infected or spread the infection based on results from these studies. Data from one study suggest that dogs are not as likely to become infected with the virus as cats and ferrets. These findings were based upon a small number of animals and do not indicate whether animals can spread infection to people.
For any animal that tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 at a private or state laboratory, USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories performs additional testing to confirm the infection and posts results of positive animals on its website.
Q: Since domestic cats can get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, should I worry about my cat?
A: We are still learning about this virus and how it spreads, but it appears it can spread from humans to animals in some situations. The FDA is aware of a very small number of pets, including cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The majority of these cases were linked to close contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19
At this time, there is no evidence that pets, including cats and dogs, play a role in spreading COVID-19 to people. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking.
People sick with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from other people and animals, including pets, during their illness until we know more about how this virus affects animals. 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 pets.
Q: Why are animals being tested?
A: The FDA, USDA and CDC recommend that any testing of animals should be conducted using kits not required when testing people. USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) and the laboratories of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) use tests developed for animal testing that are not used for testing in people. This avoids placing additional stresses on human testing resources while also recognizing the potential importance of animal testing to supporting public health.
Although animal and human tests are generally similar, this type of testing has to be adjusted in each species and for each sample type (blood, feces, nasal swab). Human and animal tests are not intended to be interchangeable. Some testing performed on animals is based on the published tests used in people, but animal testing is not likely to reduce the availability of tests for people if labs follow recommendations from the FDA, USDA, and CDC that animal testing be conducted using tests developed for animals.

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