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An Ingham County cat will become Michigan’s first pet with a confirmed COVID-19 infection, the state said on Tuesday.
The domestic cat has been in close contact with its owners, who both tested positive for the virus, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.
The cat tested positive for COVID-19 about a week after infecting its owners. The cat sneezed and has since recovered.
“Given the other reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 found in pets around the world, this evidence is not unexpected,” said state veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland in a statement. “The cases in animals generally involved direct contact with an owner or carer who was sick or tested positive for COVID-19.”
As of Monday, 257 animals in the United States had tested positive for COVID-19. 99 of them are cats.
State health officials said there was no evidence that animals played a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said the risk that pets will transmit COVID-19 to humans is considered “low”.
“COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through droplets of breath when coughing, sneezing and speaking,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Chief Medical Executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Protecting pets begins with taking precautions to protect yourself by receiving one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”
Health authorities encourage pet owners with suspected COVID-19 infections to avoid direct contact with their animals. This includes kissing them, cuddling them, sleeping with them, and sharing food with them. Pet owners who suspect a COVID-19 infection should also wear a mask when handling their animals.
COVID-19 infections in cats include fever, sneezing, cough, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Recent studies have found that domestic cats are more prone to COVID-19 infection than dogs, although both are at risk.
In China, despite the low risk of animal-to-human transmission, authorities killed three domestic cats with COVID-19 infections.
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