The Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss has reassured pet owners that there is no cause for alarm after a cat was diagnosed with coronavirus last week.

Christine said: "Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.

"This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.

"There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change."

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: "This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

"The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

The pet cat was initially diagnosed by a vet with feline herpes virus, but the sample was also tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a research programme at the Centre for Virus Research at Glasgow University. Follow-up samples tested at the APHA laboratory in Weybridge confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV2 , the virus known to cause COVID-19 in humans.

BSAVA advice for practising vets about coronavirus is here and further information about testing is available here.

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