Me-OW! State’s First Pet Diagnosed with COVID-19
By Lynda Wheatley | Oct. 23, 2021
As of last week, Michigan officially has its first COVID-positive pet: a domestic shorthair cat living in Ingham County.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirmed the cat’s test results were positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) and reported that the cat had close contact with its owners, who were confirmed to have COVID-19 about a week before the cat became ill. The cat was tested after it began to sneeze and has since recovered.
“Given the other reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 being found in pets throughout the world, this detection is not unexpected,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “The cases in animals generally have involved direct contact with an owner or caretaker who was ill or tested positive for COVID-19.”
MDARD has urged pet owners to take precautions while at the same time keeping perspective: While pets around the world have tested positive for the virus, there is no evidence to suggesting animals are playing a significant role in the transmission of the virus to humans and that the possibility of transmission remains very low. As of October 18, 2021, 257 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been confirmed in animals throughout the United States since the start of the pandemic; 99 of those cases were in cats.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian says that the best way to keep pets safe is the same as keeping people safe: “ … by getting one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”
If you have or suspect you have COVID-19, experts recommend avoiding direct contact with animals—including kissing them, snuggling them, having them sleep in your bed, or sharing food. Signs of SARS-CoV-2 in animals can include fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. If you think your pet is sick with the virus contact your veterinarian. Testing is recommended in some circumstances, but a veterinarian will need to obtain approval from MDARD to test animals for SARS-CoV-2.
Note: Cat picture is a stock photo, courtesy of Unsplash; not Ingham County cat.