The first case of Covid-19 in a UK pet has been confirmed after a cat in England caught the virus from its owners.
The UK’s chief veterinary officer revealed on the government’s website that the infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge on Wednesday.
The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household. The symptoms detected in the cat were “nasal discharge and shortness of breath”.
Although it represents the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.
There is also no evidence that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to humans.
Other countries have reported cases of pets contracting the virus, including China, US, France, Spain, Italy and Hong Kong.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.
“This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.
“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”
Yvonne Doyle, medical dsirector at Public Health England, said: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.
“The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.
“In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.
“The pet cat was initially diagnosed by a private vet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a research programme.
“Follow-up samples tested at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV2 which is the virus known to cause Covid-19 in humans.”