A tiger tested positive for COVID-19, but what about pets? The USDA answers your questions

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(Credit: Bronx Zoo 2017)

(WJW)– Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, multiple domestic and international health organizations have indicated that pets are not at risk for contracting or spreading the virus.

The USDA is providing some information on the topic after it was announced Sunday that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for coronavirus.

The 4-year-old female Malayan tiger tested positive after developing a dry cough and is expected to recover, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo said in a news release.

The tiger was infected by a zoo employee who was “asymptomatically infected with the virus” while caring for her, according to the zoo.

The USDA provided the following guidance on animals and the coronavirus:

Can people give the virus to animals?

“This is the first case of its kind. We are still learning about this new coronavirus and how it spreads. This case suggests that a zoo employee spread the virus to the tiger. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19. State animal and public health officials will continue to work closely with USDA and CDC to monitor this situation and will conduct additional testing if it is warranted.”

Can animals give people the virus?

“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.”

Should those with COVID-19 avoid contact with animals?

“You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would with other people. Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.”

Steps to take include:

— When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
— If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
— If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

What if someone feels their pet has coronavirus?

“Call your veterinary clinic with any questions about your animal’s health. In order to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared for the household animal, the owner should call ahead and arrange the hospital or clinic visit. Make sure to tell your veterinarian if your animal was exposed a person sick with COVID-19, and if your animal is showing any signs of illness. Veterinarians who believe an animal should be tested will contact state animal health officials, who will work with public and animal health authorities to decide whether samples should be collected and tested.”

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