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ADPH investigating death of cat who tested positive for COVID-19

The departments say it's thought to be rare for animals to be infected with the virus.
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OPELIKA, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) are investigating the death of a cat they said tested positive for COVID-19 in Opelika, Alabama.

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According to the departments, cases in animals are thought to be very rare and have primarily occurred approximately five to ten days after being exposed to a human that had tested positive.

Veterinary pathologists with the Thompson Bishop Sparks State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama, said there was evidence that COVID-19 was not the primary cause of death for the cat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health veterinarians said in nearly all animal deaths associated with COVID-19 there were underlying conditions. So far, less than 10 animal deaths in the U.S. are believed to have been associated with COVID-19.

“There is still a lot we just don’t know about how frequently animals become infected, so this has been an opportunity for us to gather information that might help us prevent more infections in companion animals,” Said Dr. Dee W. Jones, state public health veterinarian. “We’re working with the local veterinarian and the owner to gather more information about the animal’s medical history as well as other companion animals in the household. However, at this time during the pandemic, companion animals don’t seem to be at risk from suffering severe illness with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

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If you become sick with COVID-19 and suspect your pet has become infected to, do not go to the vet clinic yourself, instead, call  your veterinarian and let him or her know that you have been sick with COVID-19.

In order for a vet to request a COVID-19 test for a pet, the following criteria must be met:

  • A household member must be diagnosed with COVID-19 in the preceding 14 days
  • The animal must exhibit respiratory symptoms and had direct exposure to the positive owner

If you have more questions, ADPH asks you call them at 1-800-677-0939.

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