Can pets contract coronavirus? Concerns raised after Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive

Can pets contract coronavirus? Concerns raised after Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive
Veterinarians have been receiving questions about COVID-19 after a tiger tests positive at the Bronx Zoo in New York. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After reports Sunday that a tiger has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York, people have asked if the same could happen to a house cat or other animals.

The Bronx Zoo issued a release Sunday saying that Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger tested positive for COVID-19. The test was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory based in Ames, Iowa.

Several other lions and tigers within the zoo showcased respiratory symptoms as well, and public health employees believe that these cats were infected through a zoo employee who was showcasing symptoms. The animals are expected to recover and the USDA and CDC have been constantly monitoring the situation.

This has brought questions on to veterinarians as to whether or not other kinds of animals, such as house pets, can contract the virus or spread it to owners.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has been studying the novel coronavirus and has been in contact with the CDC, FDA and USDA as well as several other state, national and international expert groups. They have been providing resources to help pet owners and veterinary teams answer questions relating to pets and combating the spread of the virus.

Their findings mention that the CDC has not received any reports of household pets becoming sick with coronavirus in the United States. Infectious disease experts as well as human and animal health organizations also say that there is no evidence pets can spread COVID-19 to people.

The AVMA states that out of an abundance of caution and until more is known about the virus, contact with pets and other animals should be restricted if a person is facing symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Interaction with pets can continue if a person is not ill with the novel coronavirus, but the AVMA says to continue practicing good hygiene while caring for your pets, including proper hand washing, keeping food and water clean and replacing bedding where appropriate.

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