Two cats in New York state become first US pets to test positive for coronavirus

Two cats have become the first pets in the United States to test positive for coronavirus, federal agencies announced Wednesday in a release recommending a number of precautions pet owners should take.

Both animals, which are from separate areas of New York state, had minor respiratory symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery, a release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

It’s possible, officials said, that the cat was infected by somebody outside the home. Someone inside the house, with mild or no symptoms, could have also transmitted the virus.

“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets” or to rush to test them en masse, said Dr Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus outbreak, struck a similar note of caution in Wednesday’s press briefing.

Pets and animals can get infected with the virus, but “there’s no evidence that the virus is transmitted from a pet to a human”, Fauci said.

“Anything is possible,” Fauci added, but right now it seemed unlikely.

Still, the CDC is recommending that people prevent their pets from interacting with people or animals outside their homes – by keeping cats indoors and dogs out of dog parks, for instance.

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