JB Pritzker, Governor
                       Jerry Costello II, Acting Director

State Fairgrounds • P.O. Box 19281 • Springfield, IL 62794-9281 • 217/782-2172 • TTY 866/287-2999 • Fax 217/785-4505

June 5, 2020

The Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Department of Public Health have been contacted by National Veterinary Services Laboratory regarding a cat that has tested positive for COVID-19.  The cat was presented to the submitting veterinarian with fever, lethargy and mouth ulcers in mid-May.  The owner was known to have tested positive for COVID 19 previously.  The cat was treated symptomatically and has since improved.

It is important to note that there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted from animals to humans.  However, it is imperative to remind all that anyone exhibiting clinical illness should distance themselves from their pets, as they would other people.  This includes not petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked or sharing food or bedding with the pet. It is best if the ill person does not care for the pet if someone else in the household is available to do so. If they must do so they should wash their hands before and after they interact with the pet and wear a face covering.

Out of an abundance of caution, it is also important to continue to ensure that all veterinarians and their staff continue to wear the appropriate PPE, as recommended by the CDC, when working with animals potentially exposed to COVID-19.

When should pet animals be tested for COVID-19?

Routine testing of companion animals for SARS-CoV-2 is currently not recommended. Animal testing for SARS-CoV-2 is available for mammalian species for certain situations; testing is not currently available for amphibians, reptiles, fish, or birds. Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing, especially among companion animals without a COVID-19 exposure. If an animal with a history of close contact with a suspect or confirmed COVID-19 case develops symptoms of an infectious disease the owner should contact their veterinarian and they can contact state authorities if they want to have testing approved.