Coronavirus News: New York cats are 1st pets in US to test positive for COVID-19

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Two cats living in separate areas of New York state are the first pets in the United States to test positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced the felines had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery.

In a statement, the agencies said a veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed mild respiratory signs.

No humans in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19.

The agencies said the virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.

Samples from the second cat were taken after it's owner tested positive for COVID-19, and then the animal showed signs of respiratory illness.

"The cat presented with symptoms of upper respiratory infection," said Dr. Melissa Salgado, of VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center. "So sneezing, coughing, watery nose, nasal discharge and eye discharge and lethargy."

Another cat in the household has shown no signs of illness.

The agencies said there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States, however further studies are needed.

Until we know more, the CDC recommends the following:

- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

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