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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 the origin of the disease remains uncertain, the first reported human cases were associated with a live animal market in the city of Wuhan. Genetic analysis indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is most closely related to a coronavirus found in Horseshoe bats in China. The disease was initially confined to China and a few surrounding countries. However, due to efficient virus transmission between humans and high numbers of people travelling globally, COVID-19 quickly spread worldwide.

All current evidence indicates that COVID-19 is spread exclusively between humans. Rarely, an infected person has transmitted the SARS-CoV-2 virus to a pet or other animal. To date in the U.S., SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in only a very few pet cats, tigers and lions in a zoo, and one pet dog. All of these animals had confirmed or potential contact with a person with COVID-19.  Preliminary research suggests that cats and ferrets may be susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, but dogs show little to no susceptibility, and chickens and livestock are not susceptible. Currently, there is no evidence that pets can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.

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)


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