Cat gets coronavirus from owner as medics recommend limited contact with pets

A Belgian woman with coronavirus has passed the infection onto her cat.

Steven van Gucht, head of viral diseases at the Belgian Institute of Health, announced today that "a coronavirus infection has been determined in a cat".

"The cat lived with her owner, who started showing symptoms of the virus a week before the cat did," he said at a press conference.

Neither the woman nor the cat were identified, but officials say they live in Liege in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

"The cat had diarrhoea, kept vomiting and had breathing difficulties. The researchers found the virus in the cat's faeces," Mr van Gucht said.

"We want to stress that this is an isolated case. Additionally, in this case, we are talking about a human-to-animal transmission, not the other way around.

"There are no indications that this is common. The risk of animal-to-human transmission is very small."

Belgian health authorities have since said the unfortunate cat was also suffering from respiratory and digestive disorders when it contracted the virus.

They have emphasised there is no evidence to suggest the virus is being transmitted from pets to humans.

It's the third recorded case of an animal being infected with coronavirus, and the first involving a cat.

Two dogs in Hong Kong reportedly caught Covid-19 from humans. The first was a pomeranian whose 60-year-old owner had coronavirus, and which died after being released from quarantine.

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The second was a German Shepherd which tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms.

Belgian authorities say animal cases are very rare, but advises anyone concerned about their pet to contact their vet. New guidelines also advise those who have tested positive for Covid-19 to limit their contact with pets.

Belgium has 7,284 confirmed cases of coronavirus and the death toll stands at 289.

The news comes as American veterinary diagnostics multinational IDEXX Laboratories announced it has seen no cases of human-to-animal transmission of coronavirus.

The company tested thousands of both canine and feline specimens for the virus and none tested positive, confirming that cases are primarily transmitted among humans.

CEO Jay Mazelsky said IDEXX is ready to develop coronavirus testing for pets should it become necessary.

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