Can your pet get sick with COVID-19?
A tiger at the Bronx Zoo recently tested positive for COVID-19, a first infected animal that has left many of us wondering what it means for the average pet.
Corona viruses are a large family of viruses. Some corona viruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some corona viruses, such as canine and feline corona viruses, infect only animals and do not infect humans.
Risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people
Some corona viruses that infect animals can sometimes be spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are examples of diseases caused by corona viruses that originated in animals and spread to people. This is what is suspected to have happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19. However, we do not know the exact source of this virus. Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of COVID-19. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person. The corona virus most similar to the virus causing COVID-19 is the one that causes SARS.
Risk of people spreading COVID-19 to animals
CDC is aware of a very small number of pets, including dogs and cats, outside the United States reported being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. CDC has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.
The first case of an animal testing positive for COVID-19 in the United States was a tiger with respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City. Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus. This investigation is ongoing and researchers are still learning about this virus, but we know that it is zoonotic and it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.
CDC is working with human and animal health partners to monitor this situation and will continue to provide updates as information becomes available. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
Protect pets if you are sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have been no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.