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Should you worry about your pet giving you COVID-19?

After two cats test positive for coronavirus in New York, South Florida pet owners have concerns

MIAMI, Fla. – Concern is growing among pet lovers after two house cats in New York State tested positive for COVID-19.

At least one diagnosis was made by a veterinarian in Connecticut.

"The cat presented with symptoms of upper respiratory infection. So sneezing, coughing, watery nose," said Dr. Melissa Salgado.

Salgado said at the time, she knew that the owner had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the cat had never suffered from upper respiratory infections in the past.

While the cats did have mild symptoms, they are expected to make a full recovery.

It comes after several tigers at the Bronx Zoo tested positive as well raising the question — can your cat or dog, get you sick?

Dr. Douglas Mader of Marathon Veterinary Hospital said: "There’s absolutely no indication whatsoever that they can get sick with it, and then send the virus back to a human."

While he admits there is still much experts don’t know as of now, he says, there’s no evidence of any infected pets, directly transmitting the virus.

They can, however, pass it on indirectly.

“If you have an owner that has COVID-19, and they sneeze or cough and droplets of the virus end up on their pet, and then a non infected person comes by and over a short period of time touches that animal, the virus can be transmitted that way,” Mader said.

As a precaution, he says owners should make their pets socially distance as well, just like humans.

"Take your dog out for a walk, that’s good for you and your dog, but it keep it on a leash so it's not wandering around other dogs. Keep six feet of distance."

So again, use the same common sense and the same rules that apply to people right now. If you get sick, Mader says, as hard as it may be, you should limit your contact with your own cat or dog.

“If a pet owner is ill, if they have no other choice, they should try to limit their contact with their pet. In a perfect world, they would have somebody else take care of that pet while they go through their self-quarantine,” Marder said.

Key Points from the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has answers about COVID-19 and your pets.

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others cause illness in certain types of animals.
  • Some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes be spread to people, but this is rare.
  • We do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The first infections were thought to be linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now primarily spreading from person to person.
  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
  • We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.
  • The first case of an animal testing positive for the virus in the United States was in a tiger that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City.
  • CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
  • Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
  • Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and the role animals may play in the spread of COVID-19.
  • This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
  • For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals Frequently Asked Questions.

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