UPDATE: Where do we stand with COVID-19 and pets?
As you all know, I have tried diligently to stay on top of any news/information when it comes to our companion animal friends and the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. I thought it might be interesting to create a little timeline of the stories we have seen with pets and COVID-19.
Early March, 2020: First report of non-human animal with traces of viral RNA detected ("Positive for SARS-CoV-2"). This was a Pomeranian in Hong Kong who tested positive for multiple days before clearing the virus, testing negative twice, and then going home to his owner. He was never symptomatic. He did live with a COVID-19 positive owner and, unfortunately, the 17 year old dog died about 3-4 days after returning home. Although a necropsy was not done, there is no indication the dog died of COVID-19.
March 19, 2020: Second dog in Hong Kong tests positive for SARS-CoV-2. This 2 year old German Shepherd lives in a home with COVID-19 positive owners along with a 4 year old mixed breed dog. Both dogs were quarantined, but only the Shepherd tested positive. Neither dogs showed symptoms and were eventually returned to their owner.
March 27, 2020: Reports of a cat who was symptomatic with respiratory issues, along with vomiting and diarrhea showed up in Belgium. Tests showed that the cat did have SARS-CoV-2, but the cat has recovered uneventfully. This was soon followed by a positive cat in Hong Kong on 4/1.
April 5, 2020: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 6 other big cats had dry coughs. Since that time, the other 6 cats tested positive using a different type of test (fecal test vs. nasal swab) along with an asymptomatic tiger. All of these animals have recovered. This was the first recorded appearance of SARS-CoV-2 in animals here in the United States.
April 18, 2020: 2 cats living in separate households in New York state were confirmed positive for the virus. One cat lived with a COVID-19 positive individual, but the other cat did not have any known contact with an infected person. Likely, the second cat was infected by an asymptomatic human carrier of the virus. Again, both cats recovered without incident.
And finally (for now), April 28, 2020: A Pug living in North Carolina tested positive along with 3 other human members of his family. The second dog, a cat, a lizard, and one human tested negative in the same household. The Pug had mild respiratory signs, but honestly, what Pug doesn't??? He is doing fine at home.
Adding up all of these animals, we see three dogs, four cats, and multiple big cats living in a zoo environment. All total - 15 animals. April 29th total of human cases = 3.17 million cases. So, again, our pets are not sharing this disease with us, but we have the potential to share with our feline friends.