Alabama agencies investigate death of cat positive with COVID-19

Cat tests positive for COVID-19

OPELIKA, Ala. (WAFF) - We’re all wondering it, how do animals catch COVID-19?

That is something the Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating.

ADPH and several other Alabama agencies are partnering to investigate a positive COVID-19 case in a deceased cat in Opelika.

According to report released form ADPH, the Thompson Bishop Sparks State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Auburn detected an initial positive test on the cat.

Pathologists found significant lesions in the nervous system that typically indicates bacterial infections, suggesting that Coronavirus was not the primary cause of death.

Additional samples were collected and forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for confirmatory testing. The NVSL confirmed the cat as positive for the virus this week.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health veterinarians found that in nearly all animal deaths associated with the virus, the animals had multiple infections or had underlying health issues at the same time.

Less than 10 animal deaths in the U.S. are thought to have been associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus in humans is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome. However, cases in animals are thought to be very rare, and primarily occur 5 to 10 days following exposure to a positive human.

According to Dr. Dee W. Jones, state public health veterinarian, infections in animals are being examined closely by public health and animal officials, but at this point, there seems to be no evidence suggesting that companion animals are responsible for infecting people.

He states, “There is still a lot we just don’t know about how frequently animals become infected, so this has been an opportunity for us to gather information that might help us prevent more infections in companion animals.” Dr. Jones also adds, “We’re working with the local veterinarian and the owner to gather more information about the animal’s medical history as well as other companion animals in the household. However, at this time during the pandemic, companion animals don’t seem to be at risk from suffering severe illness with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

To help protect companion animals, pet owners who are sick with COVID-19 should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Avoid contact with pets and other animals, as you would around other people.
  • Arrange for another household member to care for your pets while under isolation.
  • Avoid contact, such as petting, holding, snuggling and facial contact.
  • Wear a mask and wash your hands before feeding or tending to your pet if you are unable to find alternate care for your pets.

If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let him or her know you have been sick with COVID-19.

For more information, please contact ADPH at 1-800-677-0939.

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