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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.



Week of 3/29/2021


Human Infection of Avian-Like Swine Influenza A(H1N1) in the Netherlands – 3/2021

We report a zoonotic infection of a pig farmer in the Netherlands with a Eurasian avian-like swine influenza A(H1N1) virus that was also detected in the farmed pigs. Both viruses were antigenically and genetically characterized. Continued surveillance of swine influenza A viruses is needed for risk assessment in humans and swine.

Eurasian avian-like swine influenza A(H1N1) viruses (IAVs) are entirely derived from a precursor virus of avian origin and have been enzootic in the swine population in Europe since 1979 and in Asia since 1993. Zoonotic infections with such viruses, which are then termed H1N1 variant (H1N1v) viruses, occur sporadically. Most cases occur in humans who have direct exposure to pigs. Since 1986, several human cases of Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine IAV have been reported in Europe and China.

These events reflect the possibility of Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine IAV transmission from swine to humans. In this study, we report an infection with a Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine IAV in a pig farmer and his pigs in a herd in the Netherlands. We also conducted whole-genome characterization of viruses from the man and the pigs.


Study: Flu Shot Associated With Fewer, Less Severe COVID Cases – 3/24/2021

People who received a flu shot last flu season were significantly less likely to test positive for a COVID-19 infection when the pandemic hit, according to a new study. And those who did test positive for COVID-19 had fewer complications if they received their flu shot. These new findings mean senior author Marion Hofmann Bowman, M.D., is continuing to recommend the flu shot to her patients even as the flu season may be winding down.

“It’s particularly relevant for vaccine hesitance, and maybe taking the flu shot this year can ease some angst about the new COVID-19 vaccine,” says Hofmann, an associate professor of internal medicine and a cardiologist at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Michigan Medicine is the academic medical center of the University of Michigan.

Researchers reviewed medical charts for more than 27,000 patients who were tested for a COVID-19 infection at Michigan Medicine between March and mid-July of 2020. Of the nearly 13,000 who got a flu shot in the previous year, 4% tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 14,000 who hadn’t gotten a flu shot, nearly 5% tested positive for COVID-19. The association remained significant after controlling for other variables including ethnicity, race, gender, age, BMI, smoking status and many comorbid conditions, Hofmann says.

People who received their flu shot were also significantly less likely to require hospitalization, although the researchers didn’t find a significant difference in mortality between the two groups. No one in the study tested positive for both infections at the same time. The underlying mechanism behind the association isn’t yet clear, Hofmann says. “It is possible that patients who receive their flu vaccine are also people who are practicing more social distancing and following CDC guidelines. However, it is also plausible that there could be a direct biological effect of the flu vaccine on the immune system relevant for the fight against SARS-CoV-2 virus,” she says.

Prospective longitudinal studies to examine the effect of the flu vaccine on respiratory illness are ongoing, including the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation (HIVE) study through the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “It’s powerful to give providers another tool to encourage their patients to take advantage of available, effective, safe immunizations,” says co-first author Carmel Ashur, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of internal medicine and a hospitalist at Michigan Medicine.

Months ago, Hofmann was concerned about misinformation she kept seeing online that connected the flu vaccine with a COVID-19 infection. Prominent media outlets like Reuters debunked this theory, and she knew her team’s data could also help address vaccine hesitancy. “Instead of a concerning connection between COVID-19 and the flu shot, our publication provides more confidence that getting your flu shot is associated with staying out of the hospital for COVID-19,” she says.

Before the pandemic hit, Hofmann and co-first author Anna Conlon, Ph.D., a U-M Medical School student, educated Frankel CVC patients about another encouraging association with the flu vaccine: cardiovascular protective effects. “There’s robust data that the flu shot prevents heart attack and hospitalizations for heart failure, which is an additional reason to get your vaccine every flu season,” Conlon says.


RHDV2 Kills Wild, Feral Rabbits in Oregon and Idaho – 3/26/2021

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) was confirmed in a feral rabbit found dead in Milwaukie, Oregon and in two dead jackrabbits found near an airport in Boise, Idaho. The rabbit in Oregon was one of eight found dead in the Portland suburb, and state veterinarian Ryan Scholz believes the highly contagious virus killed all the rabbits.


Avian Influenza Events in Germany: No Sign of Ending – 3/27/2021             

The risk of avian influenza is high in Germany, according to the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI). The bird flu events have reached a second-high point in February; officials note saying the current epidemic in Germany have exceeded those of 2016/2017. In Germany, around 1,000 HPAIV H5 cases have been detected in wild birds and 133 outbreaks in poultry, six of them in birds kept in zoos or similar facilities, since October 30, 2020. In addition, a large number of European countries continue to report wild bird cases or outbreaks of HPAIV subtype H5 in kept birds on a daily basis.

The current spring migration of Nordic waterfowl can contribute to the supra-regional distribution. Therefore, the risk of spreading in waterfowl populations and entry into poultry holdings and bird populations (e.g. zoological facilities) continues to be classified as high. At present, there is also a high risk of entry through the spread of the virus between poultry holdings (secondary outbreaks). A high poultry density and (outpatient) live poultry trade pose particularly high risks. Biosafety in poultry keeping should continue to be checked and optimized.

Experts Review WHO Report on SARS-Cov-2 Origin – 3/29/2021

Scientists investigating the origin of SARS-CoV-2 on behalf of the World Health Organization do not believe the virus leaked from a lab and found it unlikely that the virus was spread on frozen food packaging, and they recommended more research on other possible sources, including transmission from bats directly or through another animal. "Seventeen experts, longstanding leaders from the field, including epidemiology, public health, clinical medicine, veterinary medicine, infectious disease, law, food security, biosafety, biosecurity ... will be reviewing this report intensively and quickly," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


Rescuing Dogs From Abroad Could Threaten Livestock – 3/29/2021

Dogs brought into the US for adoption from areas where African swine fever virus or other foreign animal diseases (FADs) are endemic could introduce those diseases into the US livestock industry, National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom wrote in a blog post. "While the dogs are not known to be susceptible to or carry FADs, there is the potential for bedding, crates or contamination of the dogs' coats to serve as disease carriers," she wrote.


Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Found in Colorado – 3/30/2021

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV-2) was found in North American cottontail rabbits and hares in Garfield and Saguache counties, Colorado, bringing the number of Colorado counties with confirmed RHDV-2 cases to 15. State wildlife officials are concerned the virus will spread to snowshoe hares and pikas, which could indirectly affect predatory species like the Canada lynx.


Unapproved Swine Fever Vaccines Reduced Hog Supply in China - 3/30/2021

Use of illegal African swine fever vaccines by some Chinese hog producers last year reduced output of hogs and will support prices in 2021, an executive from leading pork processor WH Group said on Tuesday. China has been trying to rebuild its massive hog herd since the deadly African swine fever virus ravaged the country’s farms during 2018 and 2019. But use of unapproved vaccines in a bid to protect against the disease had the opposite effect and ended up killing pigs, said Ma Xiangjie, president of Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development, WH Group’s domestic unit.

Pig prices rose significantly at the end of 2020, as supplies tightened, said Ma, defying expectations of growing hog output. “Since the second half of last year some pig producers in China, especially south of the Yangtze river, used some immature pig vaccines and caught African swine fever again,” said Ma, after the company released its annual earnings. The company has raised its forecast on pig prices this year due to the impact of “toxic vaccines”, he added, though said prices will still be on average lower than in 2020. The company said it processed 46% fewer hogs in China in 2020 compared with the prior year because of tight supply but lifted its imports to make up the shortfall.


Tula Virus as Causative Agent of Hantavirus Disease in Germany – 4/1/2021

We report molecular evidence of Tula virus infection in an immunocompetent patient from Germany who had typical signs of hantavirus disease. Accumulating evidence indicates that Tula virus infection, although often considered nonpathogenic, represents a threat to human health.


Animal Reservoirs and Hosts for Emerging Coronaviruses – 4/2021

The ongoing global pandemic caused by coronavirus disease has once again demonstrated the role of the family Coronaviridae in causing human disease outbreaks. Because severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 was first detected in December 2019, information on its tropism, host range, and clinical manifestations in animals is limited. Given the limited information, data from other coronaviruses might be useful for informing scientific inquiry, risk assessment, and decision-making. We reviewed endemic and emerging infections of alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses in wildlife, livestock, and companion animals and provide information on the receptor use, known hosts, and clinical signs associated with each host for 15 coronaviruses detected in humans and animals. This information can be used to guide implementation of a One Health approach that involves human health, animal health, environmental, and other relevant partners in developing strategies for preparedness, response, and control to current and future coronavirus disease threats.

Coronaviruses are a family of RNA viruses whose large genomes, propensity for mutation, and frequent recombination events have resulted in a diversity of strains and species that are capable of rapid adaptation to new hosts and ecologic environments. This viral plasticity has garnered widespread concern because of zoonotic potential and the consequences of new emergence events in both human and animal populations. The emergence of a new strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has once again demonstrated the role of the family Coronaviridae in causing human disease outbreaks. SARS-CoV-2, a novel betacoronavirus, was identified in human patients from Wuhan, China, during December 2019 and has resulted in a global pandemic, an unprecedented public health emergency, and untold economic and societal repercussions worldwide. Similar to the 2002–2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, a live animal market where hundreds of animal species were sold is suspected to be associated with the emergence or early spread of COVID-19 in humans.


Human Monkeypox and Declining Immunity in Nigeria – 4/2021

A monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria during 2017–2020 provides an illustrative case study for emerging zoonoses. We built a statistical model to simulate declining immunity from monkeypox at 2 levels: At the individual level, we used a constant rate of decline in immunity of 1.29% per year as smallpox vaccination rates fell. At the population level, the cohort of vaccinated residents decreased over time because of deaths and births. By 2016, only 10.1% of the total population in Nigeria was vaccinated against smallpox; the serologic immunity level was 25.7% among vaccinated persons and 2.6% in the overall population. The substantial resurgence of monkeypox in Nigeria in 2017 appears to have been driven by a combination of increased exposure and interactions with forest animals, driven by deforestation, armed conflicts and population migration; and population growth, accumulation of unvaccinated cohorts, and decline in smallpox vaccine immunity. The expanding unvaccinated population means that entire households, not just children, are now more susceptible to monkeypox, increasing risk of human-to-human transmission.


Fatal Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Caused by Reassortant Virus, Spain - 4/2021

In August 2018, a fatal autochthonous case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever was confirmed in western Spain. The complete sequence of the viral genome revealed circulation of a new virus because the genotype differs from that of the virus responsible for another case in 2016. Practitioners should be alert to possible new cases.

A fatal case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) detected in Spain in 2018 was caused by a different genotype, a reassortant virus, than the genotype of a previous case detected in 2016. This unexpected variability contrasts with the situation in other CCHF-endemic countries. Because CCHF is a zoonotic disease and animal migratory routes between Europe and Africa usually pass through Spain, data about genetic sequences are crucial for monitoring infections in humans, developing suitable detection tools, and providing information about the dynamics of virus circulation and spread.


Low-Level MERS Coronavirus Among Camel Handlers, Kenya – 4/2021

Although seroprevalence of Middle East respiratory coronavirus syndrome (MERS) is high among camels in Africa, researchers have not detected zoonotic transmission in Kenya. We followed a cohort of 262 camel handlers in Kenya during April 2018–March 2020. We report PCR-confirmed Middle East respiratory coronavirus syndrome in 3 asymptomatic handlers.

Since the first human case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was identified in 2012, the World Health Organization has reported 2,494 infections and 858 deaths (case-fatality ratio 34.4%) in persons across 27 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and North America. Dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) are the known reservoirs of the virus. Most human cases result from direct or indirect transmission of virus from camels or human-to-human transmission in healthcare settings; researchers have also documented limited secondary transmission to household contacts. Occupational direct contact with camels is a risk factor for primary MERS-CoV infection. Camel workers and herders have a 0%–50% seroprevalence of MERS-CoV, generally higher than that of the general population in Saudi Arabia.

Although infection is widespread among dromedary camels, zoonotic transmission from camels to humans is sporadic, and disease prevalence among humans is not directly proportional to potential exposure to infected camels. Although >65% of the world’s dromedary camels live in Africa, on that continent MERS-CoV seroprevalence in humans is low (0.2%), with no documented cases of acute human infection. Furthermore, studies in the Africa region have identified MERS-CoV RNA in 11%–16% of camels and in 80%–95% of seropositive camels. To determine whether MERS-CoV infections occur in humans in a region with high seroprevalence among camels, we studied a cohort of 262 camel handlers in Kenya.



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.