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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

Author Bio

Pat Fricano is a One Health Collaborator that organizes and compiles a weekly list of zoonotic disease updates. 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.


Week of 1/11/21

WHO Sounds Alarm Over Coronavirus Case Spike in Europe – 1/7/2021

New cases of coronavirus are spiking across Europe and the emergence of a new, more rapidly spreading variant of the virus has created an "alarming situation" on the continent, says Dr. Hans Kluge, Europe Director for the World Health Organization. "For a short period of time, we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures to be certain we can flatten the steep vertical line in some countries," Kluge says.


France: Death Due to Rabies–European Bat Lyssavirus Type 1 – 1/9/2021

According to a retrospective analysis, the Institute Pasteur has reported the death of a 60-year-old Limoges man had died from European bat Lyssavirus type 1 in August 2019. It is believed the victim was bitten or scratched by a bat nesting in the attic of his house. In August 2019, he died of encephalitis, the cause of which was not known. A partnership established between the Necker hospital and the Pasteur Institute, aimed at identifying the causes of undocumented encephalitis, led to the genetic analysis of post-mortem samples. These analyzes at Necker Hospital in Paris showed that he had contracted a lyssavirus, European Bat Lyssavirus type 1 (EBLV-1).

“It’s been 35 years since such a death happened in the world. And in mainland France it’s really the first. In Russia, in 1985, only one other case of human encephalitis caused by this strain was confirmed, and two more cases of rabies were described in Finland in 1985 and in Scotland in 2002. They were caused by a different species of bat lysavirus, and killed two scientists specializing in bats research,” Laurent Dashe, deputy head of the Pasteur Institute’s national rabies reference center told AFP. He suggested that “the patient had contact with bats nesting in his attic.” Dashe said rabies has been officially eradicated in France since 2002, adding that “the last death related to non-flying animals in France occurred in 1998.”

France reports death due to rabies-European bat Lyssavirus type 1, a 1st for the mainland - Outbreak News Today


WHO Investigators Get Green Light From China for Virus Probe – 1/11/2021

Experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive in China this week for a long-anticipated investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Monday. The experts will arrive on Thursday and meet with Chinese counterparts, the National Health Commission said in a one-sentence statement that gave no other details. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the experts will travel to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. Negotiations for the visit have long been underway. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment last week over delays, saying that members of the international scientific team departing from their home countries had already started on their trip as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government.


Mad Cow Disease Case Reported in Spain – 1/11/2021

The Ministerio de Agricultura in Madrid, Spain recently notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of a case of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow on a farm in Viniegra de Arriba, La Rioja. On 22 December 2020, the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Algete, Madrid (National Reference Laboratory for TSEs, accredited under UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard) received a nerve tissue sample suspected to be infected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) from the Regional Laboratory for Animal Health in La Rioja, Finca “La Grajera” (official regional laboratory), after a positive result was obtained through a HerdCheck BSE Antigen Test Kit (Idexx Laboratories) rapid test.

The National Reference Laboratory carried out the confirmation tests authorized according to EU Regulation No. 1148/2014. The selected test was the BioRad inmuno-blotting TeSeE Western Blot (Ref:3551169), with a positive result. Afterwards, tests for BSE strain discrimination were carried out through hybrid immunoblotting with antibodies against PrP, confirming atypical BSE (H type strain). The sample was taken within the national TSE surveillance program (sampling of dead or non-slaughtered for human consumption animals over 48 months old). The animal was a crossbred cow born on April 20th, 2003.

BSE is an animal disease that affects cattle (it belongs to spongiform encephalopathies transmissible subacute group (TSE). They are degenerative diseases of the central nervous system that are caused by agents called “pathogenic prions”. The BSE is characterized by the appearance of nervous symptoms in adult animals. The characteristic symptoms of the disease are changes in behavior and locomotor disorders.


Toxoplasma Gondii Infection Tied to Elevated Glioma Risk – 1/11/2020

Researchers found an association between seropositivity for Toxoplasma gondii antibodies and glioma risk, and people with the highest levels of T. gondii antibodies were most likely to have brain tumors, according to a study in the International Journal of Cancer. T. gondii infections can arise from consuming water or undercooked meat contaminated with the parasite, and avoidance may reduce brain cancer risk, but more studies are needed, researchers said.


WHO Sounds Alarm Over Highly Infectious Virus Variants – 1/11/2021

New, more infectious strains of the coronavirus discovered in the UK, South Africa and Japan pose a serious threat to hospitals already struggling with the burden of pandemic patients, World Health Organization officials say. The agency this week reiterated its call for vaccine producers to supply its COVAX initiative with shots to distribute in poor countries, noting it hopes to begin vaccination campaigns in February.


Wisconsin: Shawano County Deer Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease – 1/13/2021

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources confirms a wild deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease in the town of Germania in southwestern Shawano County. As required by law, the DNR will renew the baiting and feeding bans in Shawano and Waupaca counties because of the short distance between the two areas. The positive deer was an adult doe harvested during the 2020 gun deer season. Wildlife officials say they will continue surveillance near the detection site. This is the first wild deer detection in Shawano County.


Avian Influenza Outbreaks Continue in Asia, Europe – 1/13/2020

More than 20 million chickens in Japan and South Korea have been culled since November, and highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza has been found in birds in 10 Indian states. More than 100,000 chickens were culled at an egg farm in central Hungary after avian influenza was found there, and a 6-mile surveillance zone was established around the farm.


Most of WHO Virus Origin Probe Team Arrive in China – 1/14/2020

A team of World Health Organization experts have arrived in China and are in quarantine as they prepare to investigate the origins of the current pandemic, although two members of the team were denied entry after testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies. WHO Health Emergencies Program chief Dr. Mike Ryan says the team is in China to gain knowledge that could help prevent future pandemics, not to assign blame for the current crisis.


Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Pigs and Mosquitoes, Mexico – 2/2021

Pigs are susceptible to experimental Zika virus infection, but evidence of natural infection is lacking. Microcephaly has occurred in fetal piglets after in utero inoculation, and neurologic disease has occurred in neonates after intracranial inoculation, suggesting that pigs are a suitable animal model for the study of Zika virus. Three-month-old pigs exposed to Zika virus through subcutaneous and intradermal injection produce antibodies but not viremias, indicating that pigs could be suitable sentinels. We performed a serologic investigation in the state of Yucatan, Mexico, to determine whether pigs are susceptible to natural Zika virus infection. Mosquitoes temporally and spatially associated with the pigs were tested for evidence of Zika virus infection to increase our understanding of the vector range of the virus.


SARS-CoV-2 Transmission between Mink and Humans, Denmark – 2/2021

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has caused a pandemic in humans. Farmed mink (Neovison vison) are also susceptible. In Denmark, this virus has spread rapidly among farmed mink, resulting in some respiratory disease. Full-length virus genome sequencing revealed novel virus variants in mink. These variants subsequently appeared within the local human community.


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.