A pet cat has become the first animal to test positive for COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.
U.K. government said in a press release Monday that the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected in a domestic cat in England following laboratory tests conducted on July 22.
It is the first time an animal has tested positive for the deadly virus in the United Kingdom.
Fortunately, the cat and its owner fully recovered from the deadly virus and there was no transmission to other people or animals in the household.
“This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days,” said Christine Middlemiss, the U.K.’s chief veterinary officer.
U.K. health officials say the pet cat was first diagnosed with feline herpes virus – a common infection for cats – but was also tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans as part of an ongoing research program. They believe the cat contracted the virus from its owners, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19.
“This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the U.K. 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,” said Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England.
Health officials from the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization say there is no evidence at the moment to suggest that pets can transmit the disease to humans, but recommend people regularly wash their hands before and after contact with animals.
Several dogs and cats – domestic as well as tigers – that were in contact with infected humans have tested positive for COVID-19 around the world, according to the WHO.