There’s no evidence animals are playing a significant role in the spread of coronavirus to people, but precautions are important, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Monday.
“Based on limited information available to date, the risk of animals, including pets, spreading Covid-19 to people is considered to be low,” CDC official Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh said during a briefing Monday.
Evidence suggests that Covid-19 likely originated in animals before becoming widespread among humans.
“As of the middle of January, we’re aware of 187 animals from 22 countries with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection,” she added, noting those numbers do not include mink on mink farms. Behravesh said that companion animals, especially cats and dogs, are the leading group of animal species impacted by coronavirus.
While animal to human transmission risk is low, people can spread coronavirus to their pets, Behravesh said. Those who may have Covid-19 can protect their pets from transmission the same way they would with other humans.
She said infected people should avoid contact with pets and wear a mask when contact can’t be avoided.
People who suspect their pets may have coronavirus should consult with a veterinarian, Behravesh added. She noted that among 93 cases of Covid-19 in cat and dogs in the US, 53% showed no symptoms. The most common symptoms reported in animals have been respiratory sings, like coughing or sneezing. Other symptoms reported include fever, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.
Pets who have tested positive for coronavirus should be isolated away from humans and other animals, she said.
There’s no evidence that pets are carrying or spreading coronavirus on their skin or hair, and it’s important not to wipe or bathe pets with chemical disinfectants, Behravesh said.
“Pet poison controls have actually had an increase in calls due to these types of exposures among pets,” she said.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drugs for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19 in animals, Behravesh noted.