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Should I avoid contact with animals if I think that I have COVID-19 ?

Text updated on 2020-08-04


If I'm contagious, it's possible that I can infect an animal as well.

Humans with COVID-19 or test positive for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can transmit coronavirus to some animals, such as cats and dogs, but not all. To find out the risk of infection depending on the species, see Coronaviruses and animals: what are the risks of contamination and transmission of COVID-19 depending on the species?.

As a precautionary measure, until you learn more about this new coronavirus, if you have COVID-19, you should limit contact with pets and other animals, as you would with humans.

If possible, have another family member take care of your animals if you are sick or board them with relatives or friends. If the pet stays in the house with a person with COVID-19 wear a mask, don't kiss your pet, wash your hands after stroking and handling it, and even more so after changing the litter box and bowl. It is important to remember that the source of the contagion is primarily from the sick person and not from the animal, which, according to current data, is unlikely to be a carrier of the disease.


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Sources

In total, only two dogs and two cats tested positive. Only one of the cats showed respiratory symptoms. Given the small number of cases observed, it is too early to know whether the animals develop disease after infection with SARS-CoV-2. It is possible that the sick cat was sick for some other reason. IDEXX Laboratories have performed more than 4,000 tests on horses, dogs, and cats in South Korea and the U.S. without detecting a single positive animal.

Parry, N. M. (2020). COVID-19 and Pets: When Pandemic Meets Panic. Forensic Science International: Reports, 100090.

Five tigers and three lions tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. These animals were infected by a zoo staff member who was asymptomatic.

WCS website (last access 29 April 2020).

Out of 17 cats from confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks and quarantines in Hong Kong, only one tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In addition, one cat (whose owner was also a carrier of COVID-19) tested positive in Belgium, as well as two cats in France, one cat in Germany, one cat in Spain, and two cats in New York. No cat-to-human contamination was detected.

Hosie M.J., Hartmann K., Hofmann-Lehmann R., Addie D.D., Truyen U., Egberink H., Tasker S., Frymus T., Pennisi M.G., Möstl K. et al. (2020) SARS-Coronavirus (CoV)-2 and cats. European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases. edited 24 June 2020

Minks on eleven farms in the Netherlands were found to carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The minks showed respiratory and gastrointestinal signs, and the number of deaths in minks increased. Since some workers on these farms showed symptoms of COVID-19 a few days earlier, it is likely that farm workers were the source of the mink infections.

Oreshkova, N., Molenaar, R. J., Vreman, S., Harders, F., Munnink, B. B. O., Hakze-van der Honing, R. W., ... & Tacken, M. G. (2020). SARS-CoV-2 Infection in farmed minks, the Netherlands, April and May 2020. Eurosurveillance, 25(23), 2001005.

Further reading

Can my pet catch COVID-19 and pass it on to me?

What is the purpose of social distancing?

Can a person without symptoms infect others?

What should I do when I need to visit a vulnerable person?

How do you wash your hands?