LITTLE ROCK – Veterinary health professionals advise people with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 to limit contact with their pets. Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture Systems Department, said the Arkansas Department of Health recently confirmed it had found a cat from central Arkansas to be infected with the virus.
The domestic cat, the first in Arkansas to be infected with COVID-19, is said to have recovered and is healthy.
“People need to be aware that they should distance themselves from their pets if they test positive for COVID,” said Ward. “Animals infected with the virus usually develop mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. If a person finds out they are positive for COVID-19 and suspects that their pet is also infected, they should seek advice from their veterinarian. ”
Restricting contact means not cuddling, sleeping in the same bed, or sharing food with pets. Pet owners who test positive for the virus may consider leaving someone “pet” until the owner is free of COVID.
For more information about the virus in animals and recommendations for pet owners, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/animals/pets-other-animals.html.
Infections in cats and dogs have been reported in the United States and other countries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A ferret in Slovenia also tested positive. Lions, tigers and a puma, as well as some great apes, have tested positive. The CDC suspects these zoo animals contracted the virus after coming into contact with COVID-infected zoo staff.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture tracks positive animal testing at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/sa_one_health/sars-cov-2-animals-us.
For more information, see the Animals tab at www.uaex.edu/Covid19.