Aug 21, 2020

August Update: COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

Since our last update, several more cats and dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. Below is a list from the USDA website of animals in the United States who are confirmed positive for the virus as of August 21, 2020.

Animals in the U.S. who have Tested Positive for SARS-CoV-2

Type of AnimalDate ConfirmedStateMethod of Initial Diagnosis*
Tiger~,a April 4, 2020New YorkPCR
Lion~,a April 15, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Dog~,bJune 1, 2020New YorkPCR, Ab
Cat~June 1, 2020MinnesotaPCR
Cat~June 4, 2020IllinoisPCR
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~ July 1, 2020GeorgiaPCR
Dog~ July 8, 2020TexasPCR
Cat~ July 8, 2020CaliforniaPCR
Dog~ July 9, 2020S. CarolinaPCR
Dog~ July 15, 2020 ArizonaPCR
Cat~ July 21, 20201 TexasPCR
Cat~ July 22, 20201TexasPCR
2 Cats, 1 Dog~ July 22, 20201  UtahAb
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  WisconsinAb
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Wisconsin Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  N. CarolinaAb
Dog~ August 3, 2020  LouisianaPCR
Dog~ August 11, 2020  N. CarolinaPCR
2 CatsAugust 12, 20201New YorkAb
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR

PCR:real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; Ab: virus neutralizing antibody~Animal had exposure to a probable or confirmed human with COVID-19.Another three tigers and two lions at the same facility were all confirmed with SARS-CoV-2.A second dog in the household showed no signs of illness; virus neutralizing antibodies were also identified in that dog
1 Samples collected as part of planned and targeted active surveillance of a specific animal, with known or suspected exposures to a person with COVID-19 or other exposure to SARS-CoV-2, to better understand risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Surveillance Testing to Study the Virus in Animals

Something to note is that most of the animals were exposed to the virus from a probable or confirmed positive COVID-19 human. You will also notice that several of the more recent animals were tested as part of a planned surveillance.

According to the CDC website, “CDC, USDA, and state public health and animal health officials are working in some states to conduct active surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in pets, including cats, dogs, and other small mammals, that had contact with a person with COVID-19. These animals are being tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection and also tested to see whether the pet develops antibodies to this virus.” This surveillance is being done to gain a better understanding of how common SARS-CoV-2 infection may be in animals. In addition, it may provide an understanding of the possible role that pets may play in the spread of the virus.

There is still no evidence to suggest that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. That being said, it is imperative that we understand as much as possible about this novel coronavirus. While the research is currently limited, there are studies underway to help us gain a better understanding of how the virus may affect various animals.  Though surveillance testing is being done, the CDC does not recommend routine testing of animals.

What to do if your Pet is Sick

If you are concerned your pet is sick, contact your veterinarian. The CDC is advising veterinarians to rule out other, more common illnesses before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing, especially in animals who have no known exposure to COVID-19. If your pet does in fact test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the CDC has provided some guidance on their website. While some pets displayed no symptoms at all, those who did get sick had mild symptoms and were able to be cared for at home. According to the CDC, none of the pets have died. It is important to remember the risk of pets spreading the virus to humans is considered to be low. There is no reason to abandon or surrender pets who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.


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