For immediate release: October 19, 2021
Media contacts: (MDARD) Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
(MDHHS) Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112
MDARD encouraging pet owners take precautions after State’s first case of SARS-CoV-2 identified in a cat
There is no evidence suggesting animals are playing a role in transmission to humans
LANSING—Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in a domestic shorthair cat from Ingham County. While a number of pets have tested positive for the virus worldwide, this is the first case in Michigan.
The cat had close contact with its owners, who were confirmed to have COVID-19 about a week before the cat became ill. The cat was tested after it began to sneeze and has since recovered.
“Given the other reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 being found in pets throughout the world, this detection is not unexpected,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “The cases in animals generally have involved direct contact with an owner or caretaker who was ill or tested positive for COVID-19.”
As of October 18, 2021, there have been 257 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals throughout the United States, including 99 cats, since the start of the pandemic. There is no evidence to suggesting animals are playing a significant role in the transmission of the virus to humans and that the possibility is very low.
“COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Protecting pets begins by taking precautions to protect yourself by getting one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.”
An additional step to protect your pets from the virus that causes COVID-19 includes people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 avoiding direct contact with animals—including kissing them, snuggling them, having them sleep in an ill person’s bed, and sharing food with an ill person. If possible, another member of the household who is not sick should care for pets. If people with COVID-19 must care for a pet, wearing a mask is mask as well as wash their hands before and after interacting with them.
Signs of SARS-CoV-2 in animals can include fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. If you think your pet is sick with the virus or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian. Testing is recommended in some circumstances, including for animals with recent exposure to a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. A veterinarian will need to obtain approval to test animals for SARS-CoV-2 from MDARD by calling 800-292-3939.
For more recommendations and information, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s Animals and COVID-19 and the United States Department of Agriculture’s SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States websites.
LANSING, MICH. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) confirmed the recent discovery of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in mink at a Michigan farm. While this finding is not the first case of the virus being identified in mink in the United States, it is the first instance of the virus being confirmed among Michigan’s farmed mink population.
After several mink exhibited signs of illness and died on the farm, the owner submitted samples for diagnosis. The Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory completed necropsies on two of the affected animals, which tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2. The samples were then sent to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories for confirmatory testing.
Investigations into how the mink contracted the virus are ongoing, but there is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans in Michigan. The Michigan farm is self-contained, has few staff, and prohibits domestic animals from being onsite, so the likelihood of the virus moving to wildlife, pets, or people is quite low. MDARD is working in cooperation with other local, state, and federal agencies on this response.
On August 17, 2020, the USDA announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in mink at farms in Utah. There has also been a confirmed case in Wisconsin. Worldwide, it has been known that mink are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 since the virus was discovered in mink on farms in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain. After monitoring the outbreaks abroad, USDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state animal health and public health partners issued guidance for those who farm mink in the United States.
For more information about COVID-19 and animals, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 and Animals webpage.
Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-292-3939
MSU VDL Testing Capabilities for SARS-CoV-2 in Animals
May 6, 2020 - To provide support to human and animal health agencies in the State of Michigan, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory can test animals for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This test is not currently available to veterinarians or the general public for routine testing.
For guidance on when testing is appropriate, please see Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Animals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the AVMA guidance on testing animals for SARS-CoV-2, and the FAQ on Animal Coronavirus Testing from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Please contact your state veterinarian to obtain approval and for required information for testing. For Michigan animals, please call the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939. Positive test results will be reported after confirmation by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Any detection of SARS-CoV-2 in an animal must be reported to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health).
ResourcesFAQ on Companion Animal Coronavirus Testing (USDA) Confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States (USDA)
For More Information
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- CDC: Animals and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
- Michigan Veterinary Medical Association: COVID-19 Updates & Resources (for Michigan practitioners)
- State of Michigan: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (for Michigan residents)
Previous Updates from the MSU VDL
While this is still an evolving situation, the US Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, do not recommend routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2. State animal health and public health officials may initiate testing in certain cases out of an abundance of caution. Any animals in the United States confirmed positive will be added to the USDA website.
On Friday, April 10, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a letter to stakeholders, Do Not Use Ivermectin Intended for Animals as Treatment for COVID-19 in Humans. "FDA is concerned about the health of consumers who may self-medicate by taking ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for ivermectin intended for humans. People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular animal species for which they are labeled. These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people." Please read the letter for complete details.
We are monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation and at this time are not testing animals for COVID-19. Please see the links to the resources listed here to learn more. Those pages are updated as more information is available.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has issued an advisory document, The New Coronavirus and Companion Animals - Advice for WSAVA Members. (Note: advisory updated March 16, 2020.)
In a press release dated February 11, 2020, Dr. Michael Lappin, chair of the WSAVA’s One Health Committee, recommends that veterinarians tell owners to:
- keep their companion animals with them if they are self-quarantined
- keep cats inside
- arrange care for any animals left at home if family or friends are hospitalised
- contact their veterinarian immediately if they have questions or concerns.
The WSAVA’s Scientific Committee and One Health Committee have worked together to produce the advisory document, which confirms that there is currently no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected with 2019 n-CoV or that they may be a source of infection to people. They do warn, though, that it is a ‘rapidly evolving situation’.
The emergence of what is being called 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has the world on alert. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that include a common cold variant, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Coronaviruses are common in several species of domestic and wild animals including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels, bats, and others. Although not common, coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. This has been the case with both SARS and MERS. The viruses causing those diseases are thought to have originated in bats and transmitted to humans through intermediate hosts, the masked palm civet (SARS) and dromedary camels (MERS).
Currently, 2019-nCoV is also thought to have originated in animals; early cases were likely transmitted to humans through contact with animals or animal products at a market where both live animals and processed meats were sold.
However, human-to-human transmission is now responsible for more rapid spread of the virus, making this a human health concern.
Page last updated: October 19, 2021