After two companion animals in New York have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus disease, the US Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks pet owners to strengthen social distancing with pets.

Two cats that live in different parts of the state showed symptoms of mild respiratory illness and are expected to recover, according to a statement by the agencies. One cat’s owner tested positive for Covid-19 before the feline showed signs, while the other cat lives in a household where no members had confirmed positive for the disease. The agencies said it is possible the cat was infected by a household member who was asymptomatic.

Earlier, a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo became the first confirmed case in the United States. This raises further questions on pets and coronavirus.

Can those animals that tested positive for the coronavirus spread it to each other – or to us humans?

CDC, World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and other public health experts agree on one thing: There’s no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans or have they played a role in spreading the deadly disease.

“The virus may be able to infect tissues or cells in a host, say, the respiratory tract, but they’re not able to complete the life cycle in terms of transmitting to a new host,” Jonathan Runstadler, a virologist and professor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, told Seattle Times in an interview.

In the study, researchers found that cats were able to infect one another, and suggests ferrets might also be able to cat it from one another. Scott Weese, chief of infection control at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, says the virus does not appear to reproduce well in dogs, which makes them dead-end hosts.

CDC recommends practicing social distancing with pets. Even companion animals, like cats, should also avoid being in close contact during these times.

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