What Pet Owners Need to Know About Pennsylvania's First COVID-19 Positive Cat

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - eTradeWire -- The PA Departments of Agriculture and Health recently confirmed that a 16-year old cat in Cumberland County tested positive for COVID-19. The companion animal lived in a household with multiple individuals who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 and was in close contact with these individuals. Unfortunately, the cat was humanely euthanized due to its respiratory distress. Its primary cause of death is still under investigation. This is one of eight confirmed COVID-19 positive cats in the United States and, to this point, none appear to have died of COVID-19.

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) understands that pet owners may be concerned about the health of their pets and their human family members. Here are important facts that we think you should know.

1. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. It is mainly spread through person-to-person contact.
2. The cats that have tested positive with COVID-19 are known to have had prolonged exposure to individuals with COVID-19.

What does this mean? First, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should isolate from humans and your companion animals. Arrange for another household member to care for you pets while you are in isolation. If you are unable to find alternative care, wear a mask and gloves, and wash your hands while feeding or tending to your pet.  Avoid petting, holding, snuggling, facial contact, and sleeping in the same bed as your pets. In other words, take the same steps you would take to keep your human family healthy.

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Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nose or eye discharge, vomiting, or diarrhea. Note that these are the same symptoms as other illnesses; however, if your pet has these symptoms and has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person, contact your veterinarian. They will treat your companion animal and work with state authorities to determine if COVID-19 testing is required.

Ultimately, responsible pet parents must be aware that there is a chance of your animals being infected with COVID-19 but there does not appear to be significant chance of your pet infecting humans. If you or a family member is diagnosed with COVID-19, take proper steps to ensure the health of your all your family members, including the furry ones. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, pet owners are encouraged to visit PaVMA.org (https://www.pavma.org/page/COVIDpetownerresources).

Jaime Markle

Source: Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association
Filed Under: Pets

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