Cat tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, first in Michigan

LANSING, Michigan (WLUC) – On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in an Ingham County domestic cat.

While a number of pets around the world have tested positive for the virus, this is the first in Michigan.

The cat was in close contact with its owners who were confirmed to have COVID-19 about a week before the cat fell ill. The cat was tested after it started sneezing and has since recovered.

“In view of the other reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 that have been found in pets around the world, this evidence is not unexpected,” said state veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “The cases in animals generally involved direct contact with an owner or carer who was sick or tested positive for COVID-19.”

As of October 18, 2021, there have been 257 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including 99 cats, in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

There is no evidence that animals play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans and that the likelihood is very small.

“COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through droplets of breath when coughing, sneezing and speaking,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive. “Protecting pets begins with taking precautions to protect yourself by receiving one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”

An additional step in protecting your pets from the virus that causes COVID-19 is for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid direct contact with animals – including kissing, cuddling, sleeping in a sick person’s bed and sharing food with a sick person. If possible, another member of the household who is not ill should take care of the pets. If people with COVID-19 need to care for a pet, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.

Signs of SARS-CoV-2 in animals can include fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting and / or diarrhea. If you think your pet may have contracted the virus, or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian.

Testing is recommended in certain circumstances, including on animals recently exposed to a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

A veterinarian must obtain approval to test animals for SARS-CoV-2 from MDARD by calling 800-292-3939.

For more recommendations and information, see the Center for Disease Control’s Animals and COVID-19 and US Department of Agriculture SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States websites.

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