A pet cat was infected with the new coronavirus in Belgium after being infected by its owner, Belgian health authorities announced Friday.
Cases of contamination of pets are rare and the authorities have excluded any risk of contamination of humans by domestic animals.
The report follows similar cases in Hong Kong where two dogs tested positive for COVID-19 during a screening campaign performed on 17 dogs and eight cats living in contact with people carrying the virus.
In Belgium, the discovery was made by researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Liège.
It is “an isolated case” that can arise after “close contact between infected animals and humans,” said Dr. Emmanuel Andre, spokesperson for a government agency on the pandemic.
The virus can be transmitted from humans to animals but “there is no reason to believe that animals can be vectors of the epidemic in our society,” he said.
In Hong Kong, “the dogs showed no symptoms”, while in Belgium “the cat suffered from transient respiratory and digestive problems”, said the Belgian food safety agency AFSCA in a press release.
“So far, there is no evidence that a domestic animal can transmit the virus to humans or other animals,” said the public authority.
As a precaution, it is “strongly recommended” to apply standard hygiene rules when dealing with pets: “avoid close contact with pets … wash hands after having handled an animal, do not let the animal lick its face. “
The goal is to prevent transmission of the virus to the animal and to prevent the animal itself from becoming a carrier of the virus.
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