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July 15, 2020

COVID-19 infection confirmed in dog, cats

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A German Shepherd Dog with respiratory illness has become the first dog in the U.S. confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported June 2 that the infected dog lived in New York state and was expected to make a full recovery. Another dog in the same home had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 but no signs of illness.

The dogs live with one owner who developed COVID-19 and another who had clinical signs consistent with the disease.

Two cats in Illinois and Minnesota, respectively, were also infected this spring, as confirmed by test results released in early June, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Only a small number of animals worldwide have been confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, mostly after close contact with people sickened by the virus.

“We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” the announcement states. “Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”

AVMA information indicates that, by June 1, fewer than 20 pets worldwide had been found to have evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and that there had been no reports that pets were sources of infection in people. Reports released since February have included descriptions of infections among dogs in Hong Kong and cats in New York state.

In April, APHIS officials also confirmed infections among tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, and Dutch authorities reported confirming infections among minks on commercial farms.

Cats with infections developed respiratory and gastrointestinal disease, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Read an in-depth summary on the results of the tests performed on the German Shepherd Dog and other animals.