First animal infected with COVID-19 has been confirmed as pet cat in UK

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The UK government and Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed this afternoon that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK for the first time.

The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey on Wednesday 22 July 2020.

In a statement via the gov.uk website today, government officials have confirmed that although this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.

All available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners – who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 – but the cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household.

Speaking on the confirmation today, Christine Middlemiss said – the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer – said: “Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England. This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.”

There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.”

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”

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The advice from Public Health England (PHE) is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, added that: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.”

“The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round.”

“At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.”

More information and advice for pet owners in relation to this announcement can be found here.

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For further information and guidance amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, do refer to official sources via gov.uk/coronavirus.

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