Skip Navigation LinksVPHS-COVID-19

veterinary public health section

SARS-CoV-2 (cause of human COVID-19)

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causes the disease COVID-19 in humans. This disease was first reported from China in December 2019. Although it is uncertain where the disease originally came from, SARS-CoV-2 resembles a virus found in some Asian bats. The first reported human cases of COVID-19 were associated with a live animal market in the city of Wuhan, China. The disease quickly spread from China and a few surrounding countries in early 2020 to affect the whole world, due to efficient virus transmission between humans and widespread global travel. 

All current evidence indicates that COVID-19 is spread only between humans. Rarely, a pet or other animal has gotten SARS-CoV-2 by being around an infected person. To date in the U.S., SARS-CoV-2 has been found in only a few pets (dogs, cats) and captive wildlife (e.g., lions in a zoo).  All of these animals had confirmed or potential contact with a person with COVID-19.  Preliminary research suggests that cats and ferrets may get sick from SARS-CoV-2, but sickness is less likely in dogs, and unlikely in chickens and livestock. Currently, there is no evidence that pets can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans. There is also no evidence that bats in North America are infected with SARS-CoV-2, or that they can spread the virus to people or pets.

The following resources are provided to assist groups and businesses that provide care to pets to operate while minimizing risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to clients, staff, and animals.

Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups

University of California, Davis

San Francisco SPCA

Georgia Department of Agriculture

University of Florida

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

Humane Society of the United States


National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA)


Page Last Updated :