A pet cat has become the first animal in the UK to be diagnosed with coronavirus, the government has confirmed.
The cat was tested for the virus last week (July 22) at a laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey.
The government said there is “no evidence” the cat – who experienced mild symptoms – transmitted the virus to its owners or other animals or humans.
Speaking on the case, Yvonne Doylethe – the medical director at Public Health England – said it should “not be a cause for alarm” and is a reminder that people should wash their hands after coming into contact with animals.
“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,” she said. “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.”
She added: “In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals,” she added.
Professor Margaret Hosie, who was a part of the team involved in the research of the case, said: “All available evidence suggests that the cat was infected from its owners, who had previously tested positive.
“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household.”
While the cat is the first animal to test positive for coronavirus in the UK, there had been “sporadic reports” of felines in other countries such as Belgium, France, Spain and the USA who have been diagnosed with the virus.