The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries are investigating the death of a cat that tested positive for coronavirus.
The cat died in Opelika after testing positive for the virus at The Thompson Bishop Sparks State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Auburn.
“COVID-19 is in humans caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 cases in animals are thought to be very rare, and have primarily occurred 5 to 10 days following exposure to a positive human,” the Alabama Department of Public Health said in a news release Thursday afternoon.
The state says veterinary pathologists found lesions in the cat's nervous system, which typically indicates bacterial infections, suggesting that coronavirus was not the primary cause of death. It says more samples were collected and forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and they confirmed the cat as positive for the virus this week.
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health veterinarians have found that in nearly all animal deaths associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the animals had multiple infections or had underlying health issues at the same time. Thus far, less than 10 animal deaths in the U.S. are thought to have been associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thursday’s release said.
The health department says infections in animals are being examined closely, but currently, there seems to be no evidence suggesting that pets are responsible for infecting people.
Public health officials recommend that people who test positive for coronavirus follow the guidelines below:
· Avoid contact with pets and other animals, as you would around other people.
· Arrange for another household member to care for your pets while under isolation.
· Avoid contact, such as petting, holding, snuggling and facial contact.
· Wear a mask and wash your hands before feeding or tending to your pet if you are unable to find alternate care for your pets.
The Alabama Department of Public Health says if you are sick with coronavirus and your pet becomes sick, don’t take them to the veterinary clinic yourself. You should instead call your veterinarian. It says a pet must meet the following criteria before a veterinarian can request a test for the virus:
· A household member must be diagnosed with COVID-19 in the preceding 14 days.
· The animal must exhibit respiratory symptoms and had direct exposure to the positive owner.
If your pet tests positive, you should isolate them from others in your household.