- Five tigers, three lions, and two pet cats have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in New York.
- The Bronx Zoo on Wednesday said eight of its big cats had tested positive at the zoo after catching the virus from a staff member.
- Also on Wednesday, the CDC and the USDA announced in a joint statement that two pet cats tested positive for COVID-19. They are believed to be the first pets in the US to test positive for the disease.
- Research from earlier this month suggests cats may be more susceptible to infection from the new coronavirus and may be able to spread it to other cats, though there’s no evidence to suggest the virus can spread from pets to pet owners.
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Five tigers, three lions, and two pet cats have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in New York.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Agriculture announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that the first confirmed cases of the virus in US pets were detected in two cats.
“These are the first pets in the United States to test positive,” the statement said.
The cats live in different parts of New York state, and both were experiencing mild respiratory illness. The cats were tested in a private veterinary laboratory, which then reported the results to state and federal officials. The New York Times noted that tests for cats are different from human tests, “so no humans missed out on testing because the cats were tested.”
Notably, no human members of the household where one of the cats lived were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home,” the statement said.
The owner of the second cat tested positive for COVID-19 before the pet showed signs of illness. Another cat in the second household has shown no signs of illness.
Both pets are expected to make a full recovery.
Eight other animals in New York were also confirmed Wednesday to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Bronx Zoo announced in a press statement that five of its tigers and three African lions tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The zoo first reported on April 5 that a 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, samples were taken from several other tigers and lions showing similar symptoms.
Fecal tests conducted by the zoo confirmed that seven cats tested positive for COVID-19. One other tiger, who did not show similar respiratory symptoms, also tested positive.
“All eight cats continue to do well,” the zoo said in its statement. “They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced.”
“We tested the tigers and lions out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” it added.
According to the zoo, the cats were infected “by a staff person who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms.”
The zoo added that none of its other cats, including snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma, or serval, were showing any signs of illness.
New research from earlier this month suggests cats may be more susceptible to infection from the new coronavirus and may be able to spread it to other cats. Still, experts say most pets probably aren’t at risk, and there’s no evidence the virus can spread from pets to pet owners.
Two cats – one in Belgium, the other in Hong Kong – tested positive for the virus in the past month. A pet dog who belonged to a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong also tested “weakly positive” for the virus in March.