Michigan reports 1st animal coronavirus case after cat tests positive

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (NIAID-RML)

A cat is Michigan's first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, health officials said Tuesday.

The Ingham County cat had close contact with its owners who had COVID-19 before it became ill. When the cat started sneezing, it was tested for coronavirus.

The animal has recovered, and there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. However, health officials are issuing a warning to pet owners to take precautions so they don't get sick.

As of October 18, 2021, there have been 257 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals throughout the United States, including 99 cats, since the start of the pandemic. 

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"The cases in animals generally have involved direct contact with an owner or caretaker who was ill or tested positive for COVID-19," said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland.

If you are sick, avoid having direct contact with your pets. Do not kiss them, snuggle them, share food with them, or allow them to sleep in your bed. If you must care for a pet while sick with COVID, wear a mask and wash your hands.

Signs of SARS-CoV-2 in animals can include fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Contact your vet if you are worried your pet may have the virus.