Cat – UK

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Cat – UK

Added 28 July 2020

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for COVID-19, has been detected in a pet cat in the UK.

The cat was initially tested for and diagnosed with feline herpes virus, by a private vet, but the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR as part of a surveillance project in a private laboratory. On receipt of the positive result, the private veterinary surgeon notified the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Follow-up samples tested at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV-2. The original sample was retested positive, a new oral swab was negative, and the blood sample was positive to the virus neutralisation test. A second cat in the household was tested negative by PCR and virus neutralisation.

All available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household.

References

Any vet concerned about SARS-CoV-2 in an animal should follow the APHA guidelines which state that:

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 should only be undertaken where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal and that private testing should only be considered in animals which meet all four of the following criteria:

a. The animal is a Felid, Canid or Mustelid. AND
b. It is exhibiting a combination of the following clinical signs as determined by a veterinary professional:

  • respiratory infection
  • gastrointestinal infection
  • fever

c. other common diagnoses have been considered and discounted as determined by a veterinary professional.
d. the animal has had confirmed contact with a suspect or known human case of COVID-19 within three weeks of developing clinical signs.

Reports of a positive result should be communicated to the competent authority. This should be made as soon as possible by telephone using the number for the administration in which the tested animal resides:

i. England: Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301
ii. Wales: Animal and Plant Health Agency Regional Office Wales on 0300 3038268
iii. Scotland: your local Field Services Office

  • Ayr 03000 600703
  • Galashiels 03000 600711
  • Inverness 03000 600709
  • Inverurie 03000 600708
  • Perth 03000 600704

iv. Northern Ireland: DAERA on 0300 200 7840 / 0300 2007852 or contact your local Divisional Veterinary Office

Full details can be found in the APHA. Briefing Note 18/20. SARS-CoV-2 in Animals – Case Definition, Testing and International Reporting Obligations. 2020. Available at:
http://apha.defra.gov.uk/documents/ov/Briefing-Note-1820.pdf [accessed 28 July 2020]

Government advice for animal owners can be accessed here:

ENGLAND https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals [accessed 28 July 2020]
WALES https://gov.wales/advice-pet-owners-coronavirus-covid-19 [accessed 28 July 2020]
SCOTLAND https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-animal-owners/ [accessed 28 July 2020]
NORTHERN IRELAND https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/covid-19-horses-pets-guidance [accessed 28 July 2020]

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