Cat in Illinois tests positive for the coronavirus

Experts share tips for protecting you and your pet

As of June, at least one cat in Illinois has tested positive for COVID-19.

The cat received the PCR test, and the virus was confirmed by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.

Other animals that have tested positive for the virus between June and July include additional cats, dogs, a lion and a tiger, according to the website.

Additionally, the virus was found in mink on several farms in the Netherlands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) considers COVID-19 to be an emerging disease but said the virus' transmission is driven by humans, not animals.

So far, cats seem to be most susceptible to COVID-19 and may transmit the virus to other cats, according to the OIE.

Symptoms in cats may include respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. Farmed mink may have respiratory disease and an increased mortality rate, according to the OIE.

Dogs were less affected by the virus than ferrets or cats were. Egyptian fruit bats that were infected in the laboratory setting did not show signs of the virus. However, they could transmit infection to other fruit bats, according to the OIE.

According to the CDC, symptoms in pets may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, vomiting and diarrhea.

So how can owners protect their pets?

The CDC recommends that pet owners:

• Do not let pets interact with people outside the household.

• Isolate any sick person in the household from the rest of the family, including pets.

• Do not let cats roam freely outside.

• Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet away from others.

• Avoid public places where large numbers of people gather.

• Do not put face coverings on pets. Covering pets’ faces could harm them.

• Do not wipe or bathe pets with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or any products not approved for animal use.

In addition, the OIE recommended people wash their hands before and after being around or handling animals, their food or supplies and that they avoid kissing animals, being licked by animals or sharing food with animals.

Infected cats should have their own litter boxes.

Use gloves when picking up pet waste. Place used gloves and waste material in a sealed bag. Place into a trash can lined with a trash bag.