Featured News Can my pet catch COVID-19?

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Fri, 1 May 2020

Can my pet catch COVID-19?

A grey dog and a black dog sit and look at the camera
Photo: Katherine Kokkonen, JCU

As a virus that originated in animals, there has been concern in the community that people could catch COVID-19 from their pets, but a JCU veterinarian says there’s no evidence of this.

James Cook University Head of Veterinary Science Professor Margaret Reilly said there have been no cases identified to date of pet-to-human transfer of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We’re aware of an international case of dog that tested positive to the virus in January,” she said. “Since then, there have been several positive cats and dogs around the world, as well as tigers and lions at a zoo in the United States.

“In these cases it is believed humans transferred the virus to the animals.”

Dr Reilly said there’s a test available for cats but it will only be recommended under very specific circumstances.

“Cats need to be heavily sedated or anaesthetised to take the sample,” she said.

Prof Reilly is giving a free public webinar about animals and COVID-19, including how we can keep our pets and their humans safe from the virus. She will be joined by Associate Professor Janice Lloyd, who will talk about managing pet behaviour when we’re working or studying from home.

The webinar is on Tuesday 5 May at 7pm.


Prof Margaret Reilly

Head of Veterinary Science, JCU