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 Weekly Zoonotic Updates

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that have jumped from an animal (non-human) to humans. Each week, this page is updated with the latest zoonotic news and articles from around the world, including COVID-19. Please send all comments or suggestions to

Pat Fricano is a One Health Collaborator that organizes and compiles a weekly list of zoonotic disease updates. He has in excess of 30 combined years of work experience in environmental protection and environmental public health between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Health. In his current capacity as the Zoonotic Diseases Coordinator at the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, he tracks mosquito borne and other vector borne diseases.



Zoonotic Articles – Week of 6/14/2021


Leishmaniases in the European Union and Neighboring Countries – 6/2021

Leishmaniases are endemic in humans and animals in part of the European Union (EU) and its neighboring countries. Leishmania species in this region are L. major, L. tropica, and the L. donovani complex species (including L. infantumand L. donovani sensu stricto). All cause cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL); visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is caused mainly by L. donovani complex species. There is evidence that the risk for leishmaniases is increasing in some EU and neighboring countries. We conducted a questionnaire survey to gather information on the epidemiologic situation, surveillance, prevention and control measures, and drivers of emergence of animal and human leishmaniases in this region during 2010–2020. Few countries implement surveillance and control targeting both animal and human infections. Leishmaniases are considered emergent diseases in most countries, and lack of resources is a challenge for control.


Atypical Brucella Species in Two Marine Toads – 6/2021

Brucellosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by gram-negative, intracellular Brucella coccobacilli. Expanding from six species classically associated with abortion in mammals (B. melitensis, B. suis, B. abortus, B. ovis, B. canis, and B. neotomae), the genus now includes novel strains from marine mammals (B. ceti, B. pinnipedialis), baboons (B. papionis), and foxes (B. vulpis). Two of these (B. ceti, B. pinnipedialis) are also considered atypical Brucella species similar to B. microti and B. inopinata. Atypical Brucella lesions in humans, wild mammals, amphibians, and fish range from localized manifestations to systemic infection with high death rates; however, reproductive lesions more typical of mammalian brucellosis are rare in amphibians. Previous reports of Brucella in amphibians have also included asymptomatic infections, suggesting that Brucella may be a commensal microorganism or opportunistic pathogen. The precise epidemiology, pathogenesis, and zoonotic potential of Brucella in amphibians remains largely unknown. We report atypical Brucella infection in 2 marine toads. These findings represent a novel emerging disease in toads and a possible zoonotic pathogen.


CDC Releases Data on Blue-Green Algae Impacts to Humans and Animals – 6/1/2021

Blue-green algae are toxic to humans and animals. The CDC has released the first round of nationally sourced data collected through its national reporting system One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System. The system provides an electronic platform for state officials to submit information on illnesses to humans and animals due to exposure to blue-green algae. The system collected data from 18 states, including Florida. The data is from 2016 through 2018.

Reporting the data is voluntary and the CDC hopes more states will join Florida and the program as time goes on. “There are a lot of questions, a lot of data gaps around cyanobacteria blooms and their health effects,” said Dr. Virginia Roberts, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, part of the CDC. “It’s an emerging issue for sure.” One reason for the gap is that even as reports show the frequency, intensity and spread of harmful algal bloom no national public health system tracked the impact on human health prior to 2016. “Prior to 2016, there was no national platform for recording these events. So as a country, we weren’t collecting the data about these health events,” Roberts said.

Roberts authored the report on harmful algal blooms and their effect on human and animal health. “Most of the harmful algal bloom reports that we received were related to cyanobacteria blooms, which people often call blue-green algae,” Roberts said. That’s the algae often found in Southwest Florida. The top symptoms include gastrointestinal distress, headaches, fever and lethargy. “It helps us understand a little bit more the magnitude of the problem in terms of who’s getting sick, when they’re getting sick, where these events are occurring,” Roberts said. The 18 reporting states reported 421 harmful algal blooms, leading to 389 cases of human illness, but not death were reported. The same can’t be said for animals. During that two-year period, algal blooms impacted 413 animals, killing 369 of them.


Australia Tries to Get a Handle on Mouse Plague – 6/3/2021

Anglers in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin river system are reeling in cod with bellies and throats full of mice, which are overrunning New South Wales. The government recently announced a $38.3 million support and mitigation package that includes $1.38 million for research on genetic approaches to controlling mouse populations as well as funding for a controversial plan to distribute bromadiolone, a powerful anticoagulant that could have consequences for predators throughout the ecosystem.


Bobcat Fever Spreading in Georgia Cats – 6/5/2021

Five counties in central Georgia have seen an uptick in cytauxzoonosis, or bobcat fever, and veterinarians say pet cats should be kept indoors or treated consistently with an effective anti-tick product and checked daily for ticks. Cats bitten by a tick carrying the disease-causing protozoa develop lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, anemia, jaundice and difficulty breathing and can die if they do not receive immediate veterinary care, says veterinary entomologist Nancy Hinkle.


Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes Cut Dengue by 77% - 6/9/2021

A pilot test in Indonesia of mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria reduced dengue cases by 77% and related hospitalizations by 86%, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers placed 5 million Wolbachia-infected mosquito eggs in buckets of water every two weeks in 12 study zones and compared the results with control zones in the same city.



Researchers Identify 24 Novel Coronaviruses in Bats – 6/10/2021

One of 24 novel coronaviruses identified in bats in southwestern China differs from SARS-CoV-2 only in parts of the DNA encoding the spike protein, and three others are also genetically similar to the SARS coronavirus, researchers reported in Cell. Coronaviruses can infect a wide variety of animals other than humans, and the study "highlights the remarkable diversity of bat coronaviruses at the local scale, including close relatives of both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV," the researchers wrote.


Oakland Zoo Vaccinating Wild Rabbits for RHDV2 – 6/10/2021

Veterinarians at California's Oakland Zoo are working with state and federal wildlife officials to vaccinate native riparian brush rabbits in the Central Valley against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2. Twenty wild rabbits that were caught and vaccinated to ensure the vaccine's safety have been released, and more will be vaccinated in their natural habitat.


China: H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Shaanxi Province – 6/10/2021

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported Wednesday on a wild bird H5N8 subtype highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic in the Hongjiannao National Nature Reserve in Shenmu City, Yulin City, Shaanxi Province. The outbreak, confirmed by the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory, has resulted in 4249 deaths of wild birds.

The local area immediately activated an emergency response mechanism, carried out emergency response work, treated all sick and dead wild birds in a harmless manner, and disinfected the surrounding environment. Since the beginning of this year, a total of 6 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks (all wild birds) have been reported across the country. The outbreaks were all localized and no regional outbreaks have occurred.


Predicament Over CWD-Infested Dump Site on Public Land – 6/11/2021

Minnesota officials are scrambling to fight against the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in northern deer herds where the always fatal neurological disease has traveled to Beltrami County by virtue of commercial deer farming. Governor Tim Walz wants the Legislature to strip deer farming oversight from the Board of Animal Health, which has been implicated of being too cozy with deer farms by a Minnesota Legislative Auditor's report, and lax on regulations meant to prevent CWD transmission.

The DNR is racing to build a fence around public land where the heavily infected deer farm dumped carcasses. CWD could have already spread from the dump site to an abundant population of wild deer previously considered untouched by CWD. Investigators suspect the Beltrami farm became entangled with CWD by unknowingly acquiring a CWD-infected deer from a trophy buck deer farm in Winona County. The same Winona farm has been described as the vector to a separate CWD outbreak on a deer farm in Houston County. The Beltrami farmer, whose identity has not been revealed, accepted an undisclosed amount of federal money this spring to go out of business and have his herd killed and tested.

After a state investigation determined that nine other Minnesota deer farms in eight counties could be linked to the Beltrami farm outbreak, the DNR on June 1st imposed a two-month moratorium against the movement of any Minnesota farmed white-tailed deer for any reason to another location. According to the Board of Animal Health, 143 captive deer at the nine farms are considered exposed to CWD and should be killed and tested.


Germany: H1N1v Influenza Case Reported in Teen – 6/11/2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports on a human case of infection with an influenza

A(H1N1)v virus in Germany recently. The individual infected is a 17-year-old boy from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania who developed an influenza-like illness onset on 18 April 2021. The virus was confirmed with genome sequencing conducted at the National Influenza Centre (NIC) at the Robert Koch Institute in a sample collected as part of routine sentinel surveillance. Sequencing indicated the virus belonged to the Eurasian avian-like (EA) lineage of swine influenza A viruses, specifically clade 1C.2.1.

The patient worked on a swine farm a few days prior to illness onset. After developing respiratory symptoms, he was isolated as SARS-CoV-2 infection was suspected. There were no symptoms in other workers at the farm or other members of the case’s family and the case has recovered. Further animal health and virological investigations are ongoing.


Deer Virus Prompts Concern for Washington Islands and Mainland – 6/12/2021

Adenovirus hemorrhagic disease is spreading among deer on islands in Washington state, prompting reports of dead animals and concern that mainland animals could soon be affected. Washington State Veterinarian Kristin Mansfield says the virus, initially discovered in California nearly three decades ago, causes blood vessels to leak fluid into surrounding tissues, and it could be spread by scavengers, people carrying the pathogen on shoes or tires, or by deer swimming between islands.


Smallpox Vaccine to be Supplied to the UK for New Monkeypox Cases – 6/12/2021

Bavarian Nordic A/S announced Friday that the Company was recently engaged by Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to supply its IMVANEX® smallpox vaccine in response to new cases of monkeypox in the UK. Two related cases were confirmed and admitted to a hospital in Liverpool. One was most likely infected in Africa, where the family arrived from a few days before onset of disease, and a sibling case most likely infected on UK soil by the first case.

IMVANEX (MVA-BN) is approved by the European Commission for active immunization against smallpox but has also received approval for monkeypox by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada, as the only vaccine approved for this indication in these territories. Bavarian Nordic previously delivered IMVANEX to PHE in connection with the first human cases of monkeypox in the UK in 2018 and later in 2019, when several unrelated human cases were imported from Nigeria with a subsequent infection of a healthcare worker in the UK.


Fake Rabies Records Prompt Crackdown on Dog Imports – 6/14/2021

The CDC found that more than 450 dogs imported to the US last year had fraudulent or falsified rabies certificates, up 52% from the prior two years. The U.S. imports about 1 million dogs each year. So, starting on July 14, the CDC is banning the importation of any dogs from 113 countries considered at high risk for rabies for a year. The countries are widespread, and include Kenya, Uganda, Brazil, Colombia, Russia, Vietnam, North Korea, Nepal, China and Syria. The AVMA President Dr. Douglas Kratt welcomed the decision, noting that introduction of a new strain of rabies to the US would be a serious concern.


Florida Reports 4th Eastern Equine Encephalitis Case in Leon County – 6/14/2021

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a horse in Leon County in the panhandle. This is the fourth confirmed EEE case for Florida in 2021. Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is spread to horses and humans by infected mosquitoes, including several Culex species and Culiseta melanura.

In horses, the virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.  General symptoms include central nervous system signs such as: head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor.  Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, in-coordination, circling, and staggering.  All symptoms may not be exhibited by an infected horse. The mortality rate in horses from EEE is almost 90%.

In humans, symptoms of EEE disease often appear 4 to 10 days after someone is bitten by an infected mosquito. EEE is a more serious disease than West Nile Virus (WNV) and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat. There is no specific treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma.


Kissing Bug Detected in Nebraska for the First Time – 6/15/2021

Entomologists from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology identified a species of kissing bug for the first time in Nebraska last summer, the state department of health reports.

“Kissing bug” is the common name for a group of bugs called triatomines. These are blood-sucking insects that are found across the Southern United States, Mexico, Central, and South America especially during the summer months. The species recently detected in Nebraska was identified as Triatoma sanguisuga or the Eastern blood-sucking conenose. This species has been found as far north as Pennsylvania and as far west as Texas.

The main risk associated with kissing bugs is the presence of a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi for short) that lives in the bug’s intestines and is shed in feces. This parasite can cause Chagas disease in the people and animals it infects. Although infections from this parasite are not common, approximately 25% of people that are infected develop serious chronic disease, so early diagnosis is important. Importantly, infections from the Eastern blood-sucking conenose are even rarer and the risk of infection in Nebraska is considered to be very low. However, some of the collected kissing bugs were tested for the presence of T. cruzi with several testing positive for the parasite. This is the first recorded detection of this parasite in Nebraska. Anyone who has seen kissing bugs in their home or who thinks they may have been bitten by one should talk to their doctor about getting tested for Chagas disease.


COVID-19 Creates Conditions for Emergence of Candida auris in Brazil – 6/15/2021

Fully occupied intensive care units (ICUs). Physically and mentally exhausted health workers. Chaotically overcrowded hospitals. These and similar problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil have created ideal conditions for the emergence of Candida auris, a microorganism some are calling a “superfungus” because of the speed with which it has developed drug resistance. The first two cases were confirmed in December 2020 at a hospital in Salvador (state of Bahia, Northeast Brazil), and are described in the Journal of Fungi by a group of researchers led by Arnaldo Colombo, head of the Special Mycology Laboratory at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). The study was supported by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP.

“Nine other C. auris patients have since been diagnosed at the same hospital, some colonized [with the fungus in their organism but not doing harm] and others infected,” Colombo told. “No other cases have been reported in Brazil, but there are grounds for concern. We’re monitoring the evolutionary characteristics of C. auris isolates from patients at the hospital in Salvador, and we’ve already found samples with reduced sensitivity to fluconazole and echinocandins. The latter belong to the main class of drugs used to treat invasive candidiasis.” Except for C. auris, fungi of the genus Candida are part of the human gut microbiota and cause problems only when there are imbalances in the organism, Colombo explained. These include infections such as vaginal yeast infection and thrush (oral candidiasis), often caused by C. albicans.


Animals and COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic has implications within the non-human animal world: non-human animals are the likely source of this new virus; some species have been infected with this virus inluding wildlife and companion animals; and the virus has the potential to shift again, becoming in the worst case scenario, the first pandemic to evolve into a panzoonotic.

This is not an indication to panic or abandon pets. This indicates a need to monitor the situation among both humans and non-human animals, as information about the virus is rapidly changing. On this page you will find the latest information on COVID's impact on animals, from latest reported cases around the world, to frequently asked questions about your pets.

Information is separated by species and questions. Send any questions/tips to

Key Points

  • At this time, we do not have definitive evidence that an animal can infect humans with this new coronavirus, although there are very plausible cases of infection from infected farmed mink to humans (see the mink tab below for more information).
  • While there is evidence of transmission from humans to dogs, cats, and other animals, with the exception of mink, it does not appear to be a common event.
  • Animal tests for COVID-19 are specific to animals and performed by veterinary diagnostic laboratories, NOT human laboratories.
  • If you suspect that you are ill with COVID-19, you should practice the same precautions with your pet as you would with people – wear a mask, keep your distance, wash hands regularly, and avoid cuddling and other close contact.
  • As a precaution, pets should be distanced from other animals outside the household. When possible, cats should be kept indoors, and dogs should be on a leash.
  • Dogs

    February 2020: First dog tests positive in Hong Kong. Pomeranian, 17-year-old, owner diagnosed with COVID-19, PCR positive followed by antibody positive status. Dog later died of causes likely related to age and other known health issues, NOT COVID-191.

    March 2020: A 2-year-old German shepherd in Hong Kong is PCR positive after the owner was diagnosed with COVID-192.

    April 2020: False PCR positive in a pug in North Carolina, antibody negative, family was COVID-19 positive3.

    May 2020: An 8-year-old American bulldog from the Netherlands was antibody positive and owner had COVID-19. The dog was euthanized due to worsening breathing problems, but it is unknown if the breathing issues were caused by COVID-19 or if they were unrelated4.

    June 2020: First confirmed PCR positive in the United States. The German shepherd from COVID-19 positive household had respiratory illness. The other dog in the household was antibody positive5.

    July 2020:

    • A 6-year-old mixed breed dog in Georgia tested positive. The dog had neurological disease, however the Department of Health stated that the neurological illness was not caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus6.
    • A 2-year-old dog in Texas from a COVID-19 positive household was PCR positive but with no symptoms7.
    • An 8- or 9-year-old shepherd mix from a COVID-19 positive household in South Carolina tested positive after being euthanized for an unnamed chronic health conditon8.
    • A positive dog was also identified in Arizona via PCR in July9.

    August 2020:

    • Louisiana reported its first COVID-19 case in a dog10.
    • Japan reported 4 positive dog cases, each from a different COVID positive household. A 5th dog was tested and monitored from one of these households, but never became infected11.
    • A dog that had suddenly developed respiratory distress and subsequently died was found to be positive for COVID-19 virus. It is unclear if the direct cause of death was COVID-19 or if the dog had underlying conditions that lead to the dog’s passing12.

    October 2020: Canada reported its first case of a positive, asymptomatic dog that was identified as a part of a research study. People in the household were diagnosed with COVID-19 and likely transmitted the virus to the dog13.

    November 2020:

    • Italy reported its first case of a PCR positive, asymptomatic dog from a household of infected people14.
    • Argentina reported its first positive dog cases while evaluating animals from COVID-19 positive homes. A total of 12 dogs were tested and 4 positive cases were documented. One dog had breathing issues and a cough11.
    • Hong Kong had an asymptomatic positive dog from a COVID-19 positive home15.

    Other dogs have been confirmed by the USDA to have had the infection via antibody testing as a part of targeted, active surveillance: 2 in Utah, 2 in Wisconsin, 1 in North Carolina, and 9 in Texas9.


    1. Pet dog further tests positive for antibodies for COVID-19 virus. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Press Releases. Published 2020. Accessed April 1, 2020.
    2. Pet dog tests positive for COVID-19 virus. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Press Releases. Accessed April 1, 2020.
    3. Fisher J. USDA: NC pug never contracted COVID-19. News. Published May 28, 2020.
    4. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (189): Netherlands Animal, Farmed Mink, Research, Cat, Dog.; 2020.
    5. Agriculture USD of. Confirmation of COVID-19 in Pet Dog in New York. 2020.
    6. Stevens A. Georgia dog tests positive for virus that causes COVID-19. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Published July 1, 2020.
    7. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (308): USA (Texas) Animal, Dog Confirmed.; 2020.
    8. Duncan C. A shepherd mix is the first dog in South Carolina to test positive for the coronavirus. The State. Published July 16, 2020.
    9. Agriculture USD of. Confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States. Published 2020.
    10. Staff. First canine with COVID-19 reported in Louisiana. WBRZ News. Published August 4, 2020.
    11. OiE. COVID-19 Portal - Events in animals. Published 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020.
    12. Stelloh T. North Carolina dog that died after “acute” illness tests positive for coronavirus. NBC News. Published August 11, 2020.
    13. Veterinarian O of C. Veterinary Advisory.; 2020.
    14. Di Zanni C. Positive Covid dog is the first case in Italy: “Infected by humans but unable to infect.” la Repubblica. Published November 11, 2020.
    15. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (516): China (Hong Kong), Animal, Dog, Lithuania, Mink, OIE.; 2020.
  • Domestic Cats

    March 2020:

    • A cat in Belgium from a COVID-19 positive home tested positive from a feces sample. The cat was having diarrhea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties1.
    • An asymptomatic cat tested positive in Hong Kong2.

    April 2020: The United States confirmed its first two cases in pet cats in two different areas of New York state. Both cats had mild respiratory illness3.

    May 2020:

    • A cat in France with breathing and gastrointestinal illness and from a COVID-19 positive home was positive via rectal swab4.
    • A second cat tested positive in France, after exhibiting persistent respiratory signs that were not responsive to typical treatments5.
    • A cat in Spain that tested positive (mouth and lymph node samples) after being euthanized. This cat was euthanized most likely due to a pre-existing heart condition, and not the viral infection6.
    • Another cat in Spain was found positive from another COVID-19 positive household7.
    • Germany had its first case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a domestic cat from a COVID-19 positive home. Two other cats living in the same home were negative5.
    • Farm cats on mink farms in the Netherlands were antibody tested and 7 out of 24 were positive. One was PCR positive8.
    • A 5-year-old cat in Russia that tested positive for the COVID-19 virus9.

    June 2020:

    • A cat with a fever and respiratory symptoms tested positive in Minnesota a week after the owner tested positive10.
    • A cat with fever, lethargy, and mouth ulcers tested positive in Illinois. The cat’s owner was a previously positive COVID-19 case11.

    July 2020:

    • A PCR positive cat in California12.
    • A positive cat in the UK from a COVID-19 positive home; the cat was symptomatic with shortness of breath13.
    • A positive but asymptomatic cat in Hong King from a COVID-19 positive home14.

    August 2020:

    • Two positive but asymptomatic cats from COVID-19 positive homes in Japan7.
    • Two positive cats in Texas from COVID-19 positive homes15.

    October 2020:

    • A positive cat in each state: Georgia, California, Maryland, Kentucky, and Alabama12.
    • Three antibody positive cats in New York and 1 in Arizona12.
    • 3 PCR positive cats from COVID-19 positive household in Chile16.
    • An asymptomatic cat tested positive in Brazil17.

    November 2020:

    • Two positive cats from COVID-19 positive homes in Argentina. One cat was inappetent and lethargic, the other with sneezing and nasal discharge7.
    • Two positive cats from COVID-19 households in Switzerland, one of which had sneezing, lethargy, and inappetence18

    Other cats have been confirmed by the USDA to have had the infection via PCR or antibody testing as a part of targeted, active surveillance: 4 in Utah, 2 in New York, 8 in Texas, and 1 in Louisiana12.


    1. Chini M. Coronavirus: Belgian woman infected her cat. The Brussels Times. Published 2020. Accessed April 1, 2020.
    2. Pet cat tests positive for COVID-19. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Press Releases. Accessed February 4, 2020.
    3. Agriculture USD of. Confirmation of COVID-19 in Two Pet Cats in New York.; 2020.
    4. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (149): France, Animal, Cat, Owned.; 2020.
    5. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (181).; 2020.
    6. Domínguez N. Spain records its first case of a cat with coronavirus. El País. Published 2020.
    7. OiE. COVID-19 Portal - Events in animals. Published 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020.
    8. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (209): Netherlands Farmed Mink, Animal-to-Human, Cat, Epid.; 2020.
    9. ProMED. COVID-19 Update: Russia Animal, Cat, OIE.; 2020.
    10. Walsh P. Carver County pet cat tests positive for coronavirus. Star Tribune. Published June 2, 2020.
    11. Association CVM. Illinois Cat Positive for COVID-19. Published June 8, 2020.
    12. Agriculture USD of. Confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States. Published 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020.
    13. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (334): Animals, Netherlands, Mink, Spread, UK, Cat, 1st Case, OIE.; 2020.
    14. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (330): China (Hong Kong) Animal, Cat, OIE.; 2020.
    15. DeMoss A. Texas A&M research project identifies first COVID-19 positive cats in Texas. KBTX. Published August 6, 2020.
    16. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (452): Chile, Animal, Cat, OIE.; 2020.
    17. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (463): Brazil, Animal, Cat, OIE.; 2020.
    18. COVID-19 Update (519): Switzerland, Animal, Cat, OIE.; 2020.
  • Large Cats

    April 2020:

    • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive via nasal swab under anesthesia after she, three other tigers, and 3 lions developed a dry cough. The other large cats were positive via fecal swabs. Infection occurred due to exposure to a caretaker with COVID, prior to that person developing symptoms1. One other tiger at Tiger Mountain was positive on a fecal swab but did not show symptoms. None of the other large cats (leopards, cheetahs, pumas, or servals) have shown signs of illness nor have a positive fecal swab test.

    October 2020:

    • 3 Malayan tigers at Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee showed signs of illness such as cough, lethargy, and decreased appetite. One of the three tigers was tested for a range of diseases and was confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2. The other tigers are presumed to be positive and their confirmatory tests are in process2.

    December 2020:

    • Lions at the Barcelona Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. The lions were tested due to mild respiratory signs. Two zoo staff members also tested positive3.
    • Three snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky tested positive after developing mild respiratory signs4.


    1. WCS Newsroom. A Tiger at Bronx Zoo Tests Positive for COVID-19; The Tiger and the Zoo’s Other Cats Are Doing Well at This Time. Accessed May 4, 2020.
    2. Wenzel J. Tiger at zoo in Knoxville tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, two others possibly infected. CNNWire. Published October 30, 2020.
    3. Keeley G, Rodriguez E. Four lions at Spanish zoo test positive for COVID-19. Reuters. Published December 8, 2020.
    4. Andrew S. Three snow leopards test positive for coronavirus, making it the sixth confirmed animal species. CNN News. Published December 11, 2020.
  • Mink

    April 2020:

    • Two mink farms in the Netherlands tested positive; the animals were likely infected by an employee with the virus1.

    June 2020:

    • Denmark reported its first positive at a mink farm in June. As a precaution, all mink were culled from this farm2.

    July 2020:

    • Denmark pursued a new strategy of no longer cull mink, but to test regularly and implement strict protective equipment measures3.
    • Spain culled 93,000 mink after the wife of a farmer had tested positive prompted further investigation at the farm. Seven total farmers tested positive including the woman’s husband, and up to 80% of the mink at this farm subsequently tested positive4.
    • The Netherlands now has 26 positive mink farms. By 2024, mink farms will discontinue activities based on a previously decided law5.

    August 2020:

    • The United States reported its first cases of COVID-19 in 2 different mink farms in Utah; they were discovered when a higher number of animal deaths were reported6.
    • The Netherlands revised the original order to end mink breeding by 2024; mink farming will now be discontinued by spring 20217. Approximately 1.5 million mink have been culled from 33 positive farms so far, in the interest of preventing these animals as becoming reservoirs8.

    October 2020:

    • Sweden reported its first cases of COVID-19 on a mink farm. At that time, the Swedish board of Agriculture decided not to cull those animals but instead place restrictions on the affected farm9.
    • Italy reported its first cases of positive mink to OIE in October, although the first cases were identified in August10.
    • In the Netherlands, up to 70 mink farms have been affected9.
    • In Denmark, infections have increased and at least 63 farms are affected; culling has resumed11.
    • In the United States, outbreaks escalated to 9 farms in Utah, and approximately 8,000 mink have died from the disease thus far12. A farm in Wisconsin also found positive cases after an increase of deaths prompted testing for the COVID-19 virus13. Positive mink were also identified on a farm in Michigan14.

    November 2020:

    • In Sweden, 9 more cases of infection were identified and 18 farms are being tested for COVID-1915.
    • In the United States, 2 more farms in Wisconsin were under quarantine and over 5,000 mink have died from the virus16. Positive mink were also found on a farm in Oregon17.
    • Greece reported an outbreak at two mink farms in the north18.
    • France, Lithuania, and Poland also had outbreaks in mink farms in November19.
    • Denmark is up to 207 positive mink farms. There is evidence that the farmed mink had spread a mutated version of the COVID-19 virus back to humans; in response, and out of concern that future vaccines will be less effective, the government is asking to cull the entire mink population of Denmark (approximately 15-17 million mink)20. Since then, the government dropped this plan as they did not find evidence that the mutated version put future vaccines at risk21.

    December 2020:

    • In Sweden, 13 mink farms are confirmed as infected with SARS-CoV-222.
    • In Greece, 15 more farms were affected23. Only the first farm was culled, but control measures since then has been quarantine and increasing biosecurity.
    • Canada had its first outbreak at a mink farm when farmers tested positive, followed by positive tests in multiple mink on the farm24.
    • The United States confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging wild mink in Utah, discovered as a part of wildlife surveillance in the area. The genetic sequence of the virus matched the virus obtained from farmed mink in the area25.


    1. Sterling T. Mink found to have coronavirus on two Dutch farms: ministry. Reuters. Published 2020.
    2. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (266): Denmark Animal, Farmed Mink, 1st Rep.; 2020.
    3. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (307): Netherlands, Denmark, Farmed Mink, Spread, Control.
    4. Landauro I. Spain to cull 93,000 mink at a farm hit by coronavirus. Reuters. Published July 16, 2020.
    5. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (334): Animals, Netherlands, Mink, Spread, UK, Cat, 1st Case, OIE.; 2020.
    6. Stephenson K. Utah mink test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The Salt Lake Tribune. Published August 17, 2020.
    7. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (394): Netherlands Animal, Farmed Mink, Spread.; 2020.
    8. Coronavirus found on more mink farms, pressure mounts on minister to close them all. Published August 17, 2020.
    9. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (461): Animal, Sweden, Mink, First Case.; 2020.
    10. OiE. COVID-19 Portal - Events in animals. Published 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020.
    11. Olsen JM. Danes start culling 2.5 million minks after virus hits farms. AP News. Published October 12, 2020.
    12. Aleccia J. Thousands of Minks Dead as COVID Outbreak Escalates on Utah Farms. KHN. Published October 2, 2020.
    13. Hubbuch C. Coronavirus found in mink on Taylor County ranch; first documented case in state’s $227M industry. Wisconsin State Journal. Published October 8, 2020.
    14. Rahman N. Mink at Michigan farm test positive for virus that causes COVID-19. Detroit Free Press. Published October 9, 2020.
    15. COVID-19 Update (477): Animal, Sweden, Mink, Spread, Genotyping.; 2020.
    16. Schulte L. Two Taylor County mink farms under quarantine after more that 5,000 animals died from COVID-19. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Published 2020.
    17. Loew T. An Oregon mink farm has a COVID-19 outbreak among animals and workers. Salem Statesman Journal. Published November 27, 2020.
    18. Papadimas L, Koutantou A. Coronavirus found in Greek mink farms: ministry official. Reuters. Published November 13, 2020.
    19. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (510): Animal, Mink, Lithuania, Poland, 1st Reports, France, OIE.; 2020.
    20. Denmark wants to cull 15 million minks over COVID fears. AP News. Published November 4, 2020.
    21. Lanese N. Denmark halts plan to cull 17 million mink over coronavirus infections. Live Science. Published November 10, 2020.
    22. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (546): Animal, Sweden, Mink, Surveillance, Spread, Control, RFI.; 2020.
    23. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (542): Animal, Greece Mink Mutation, Human, OIE.; 2020.
    24. Weisgarber M, Mangione K. B.C. mink farm under quarantine after animals test positive for COVID-19. CTV News. Published December 9, 2020.
    25. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (536): Animal, USA, Wild Mink, 1st Case.; 2020.
  • Rabbits, Ferrets, and Golden Syrian Hamsters

    While there have NOT been any documented cases of naturally infected rabbits, ferrets, or hamsters, early and unpublished studies have shown that they are possibly susceptible to infection, and precautions should be considered if you are ill and have these animals in the household1–3. There is some evidence that while rabbits and ferrets can become infected, they seem to require closer contact for transmission, may be asymptomatic, and may not be able to spread it easily to others4,5.


    1. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (169): Netherlands Animal, Farmed Mink, Spread, Rabbit Susp.; 2020.
    2. Shi J, Wen Z, Zhong G, et al. Susceptibility of Ferrets, Cats, Dogs, and Different Domestic Animals to SARS-Coronavirus-2.; 2020. doi:
    3. Chan JF-W, Zhang AJ, Yuan S, et al. Simulation of the clinical and pathological manifestations of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in golden Syrian hamster model: implications for disease pathogenesis and transmissibility. Clin Infect Dis. March 2020. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa325
    4. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (379): Animal, Rabbit, Exptl Infect, Netherlands, Screening.; 2020.
    5. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (376): Animal, Ferret, Mink, Comment.; 2020.
  • Testing Information

    In the United States, IDEXX, a veterinary testing service, announced that they have developed a test for COVID-19 in pets. In the process of validating this new test, thousands of samples (collected for other reasons) were tested from the U.S.; all tests for COVID-19 in those cats and dogs were negative1.


    The USDA has begun tracking positive animal cases in the United States that have been confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and are reporting them on their website:


    All information to date indicates that some animals are able to be infected by the COVID-19 virus, but it appears to be an infrequent occurrence. In Hong Kong, at least 30 dogs and 17 cats have been tested from homes with owners that were either confirmed COVID-19 cases or were close contacts to a COVID-19 patient, and only 2 dogs and 1 cat have tested positive.


    1. Idexx Laboratories. Leading Veterinary Diagnostic Company Sees No COVID-19 Cases in Pets.; 2020.
  • Can animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) spread the infection to humans?

    Recently, there has been strong evidence of at least two humans becoming infected after exposure to infected mink at farms in the Netherlands1,2. It is suspected that a human initially infected the mink at the farm, and then the infection spread back to other humans from these infected minks. In November, Denmark reported proof of human to mink to human transmission, as well as evidence of viral mutation during this infection cycle3.

    In response to this evidence, the OIE released a statement acknowledging concerns about animals becoming reservoirs for the virus, and the possibility of future spillover events from animals to humans. In light of this public health concern, the OIE recommends the following: 1) implementing national risk reduction strategies and a One Health approach to prevent the transmission of the virus between humans and susceptible animals, 2) monitor susceptible animals and humans in contact with these animals, 3) report cases to the OIE, and 4) share genetic sequences and other research findings and data4.


    1. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (198): Netherlands Farmed Mink, Animal-to-Human Infect Susp.; 2020.
    2. ProMED. COVID-19 Update (209): Netherlands Farmed Mink, Animal-to-Human, Cat, Epid.; 2020.
    3. Skydsgaard N, Gronholt-Pedersen J. Denmark plans to cull its mink population after coronavirus mutation spreads to humans. Reuters. Published November 4, 2020.
    4. OIE Statement on COVID-19 and Mink. Paris; 2020.
  • Are there any studies investigating the COVID-19 virus in animals?

    A study out of the University of Minnesota and University of North Carolina looked at which animals have the most similar receptors to the virus when compared to humans. These receptors are used by the virus to enter the cell and cause infection.  The study observed cats, ferrets, pigs, and non-human primates have the most similar receptors to human receptors1.

    A small study (not peer reviewed or published at this time, which means it has not been evaluated by other scientists for validity and suitability for publication) out of an OIE collaborating research center in China investigated the ability of ferrets, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, and ducks to become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Both ferrets and cats were able to be infected through direct exposure (placing virus into the nose). One cat became infected through close contact alone, which suggests that cats can spread the virus through respiratory droplets to other cats. Dogs were able to become infected with direct exposure, but did not become infected through close contact, and none of the dogs had symptoms. The pigs, chickens, and ducks did not become infected2.

    Another very small study (not peer reviewed or published at this time) found that cats are highly susceptible to subclinical SARS-CoV-2 infection. This means they can become infected from humans or other cats, but typically do not have clinical signs or do not appear ill. While they are infected, however, they can spread the virus to other cats. Dogs were able to become infected but did not shed virus during infection. Therefore, dogs were unable to spread the virus3. Another small study (not peer reviewed or published at this time) demonstrated similar findings with cats: infected cats in the study were asymptomatic but were able to spread the virus to other cats in just a few days4.

    A study performed in Hong Kong found evidence that human to cat transmission is possible but not common, with 6 out of 50 cats in COVID-19 positive households testing positive for the virus. One of the cats that tested positive had the identical viral genome sequence, providing more evidence that the infection was almost certainly acquired by the humans in the household5.

    A small study with 7 cats and 3 dogs observed that dogs can become infected and mount an immune response to SARS-CoV-2, but do not shed virus; cats are susceptible to productive SARS-CoV-2 infection but are unlikely to develop clinical disease (signs and symptoms). Cats in this study also were resistant to reinfection, meaning cats could be useful to study further for vaccine development in humans6.

    Researchers at the University College London published a study7 in Scientific Reports (Nature) showing that dozens of animals have the ACE2 spike protein, which allows the virus to infect the host. The study also reported that most birds, fish, and reptiles do not appear susceptible. This study highlights the importance of surveilling and monitoring farmed and wildlife species to detect possible reservoirs and prevent future outbreaks8.

    In August, the Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Animal Health Organization created guidelines centered on SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk to free-ranging wild mammals. In this document, the risk of reverse zoonosis and the possibility of the wildlife population to become a reservoir for the virus is discussed in detail. Click here for the guidelines.

    A study in Germany evaluated raccoon dogs as a potential intermediate host. The study found that raccoon dogs are susceptible to infection and are able to transmit the virus to other raccoon dogs in close proximity9.


    1. Wan Y, Shang J, Graham R, Baric RS, Li F. Receptor recognition by novel coronavirus from Wuhan: An analysis based on decade-long structural studies of SARS. J Virol. 2020;(March):1-9. doi:10.1128/jvi.00127-20
    2. Shi J, Wen Z, Zhong G, et al. Susceptibility of Ferrets, Cats, Dogs, and Different Domestic Animals to SARS-Coronavirus-2.; 2020. doi:
    3. Bosco-Lauth AM, Hartwig AE, Porter SM, et al. Pathogenesis, Transmission and Response to Re-Exposure of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats.; 2020.
    4. Gaudreault NN, Trujillo JD, Carossino M, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection, disease and transmission in domestic cats. bioRxiv. January 2020:2020.08.04.235002. doi:10.1101/2020.08.04.235002
    5. Barrs VR, Peiris M, Tam KW, et al. SARS-CoV-2 in quarantined domestic cats from COVID-19 households or close contacts, Hong Kong, China. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(12). doi:
    6. Bosco-Lauth AM, Hartwig AE, Porter SM, et al. Experimental infection of domestic dogs and cats with SARS-CoV-2: Pathogenesis, transmission, and response to reexposure in cats. Proc Natl Acad Sci. September 2020:202013102. doi:10.1073/pnas.2013102117
    7. Lam SD, Bordin N, Waman VP, et al. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein predicted to form complexes with host receptor protein orthologues from a broad range of mammals. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):16471. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-71936-5
    8. Ng K. Dozens of mammals including pigs and horses could be susceptible to coronavirus, study shows. Independent. Published October 5, 2020.
    9. ProMED. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update (448): Animal, Raccoon Dog, Research, Experimental Infection.; 2020.
  • Should I avoid contact with my pet?

    Because this virus is new and we are still learning, as a precaution you should restrict contact with your pets if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. If this is not possible, wash your hands before touching your pet, avoid snuggling and other close contact, and wear a facemask or something to cover your nose and mouth.

  • Should I monitor my pet for anything?

    There are no specific recommendations or guidelines at this time. However, in general, monitor your pet for any signs of illness (coughing, sneezing, excessive sleepiness, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing). Contact your veterinarian if these occur, particularly if your pet has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Should my pet wear a facemask?

    No. Currently, there are shortages of supplies such as facemasks, and medical personnel and those sick with COVID-19 should have first access to these masks. Additionally, especially in certain breeds, masks can cause breathing difficulty.

  • Should I get my pet vaccinated for coronavirus?

    There is currently no vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The canine coronavirus vaccine is not effective for preventing COVID-19, it is only effective for preventing canine coronavirus, which is a virus that causes severe diarrhea. They are two different coronaviruses.

    In September, a vaccine candidate to protect cats from the virus that causes COVID-19 began clinical trials1. If successful, it will likely not be available until 2021 at the earliest.


    1. Nair A. Applied DNA to initiate clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine for cats. Reuters. Published September 16, 2020.