A pet cat has fallen ill with corornavirus in the UK after apparently catching Covid-19 from a human.
The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, on July 22.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.
“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round.
“At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.
“In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.”
A private vet initially diagnosed the pet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for Covid-19 part of a research programme.
The case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international agreements.
There have been a small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
The UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.
“This is a very rare event, with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days.
“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.
“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”