Vet who diagnosed Covid-19 cat explains feline symptoms

27 July 2020, 18:18

Professor Willie Weir on the Covid cat, the UK's first animal coronavirus case

By Fiona Jones

A pet cat has become the first to test positive for coronavirus - the professor who diagnosed it explained the symptoms to look out for.

A pet cat has become the first to test positive for coronavirus after catching it from its owners.

The infection was confirmed at the Animal and Plant Health Agency laboratory in Weybridge on Wednesday.

Professor Willie Weir is part of the team of scientists that diagnosed the cat and he told LBC how he discovered the virus in the pet after screening hundreds of samples.

However he did not want to worry listeners, pointing out that "there's many viruses and bacteria that infects cats and cats often will get cat flu...and many cats will get it through their lifetime."

The cat with coronavirus had "symptoms of feline herpes", Professor Weir told LBC's Tom Swarbrick.

Symptoms of feline herpes includes sneezing “attacks”, discharge from the nose and eyes, conjunctivitis or pink eye, lesions in and around the eyes, ulcers and congestion.

Professor Weir explained that if you take your cat to the vet, if it has a sniffly nose for example, then a vet would test for the regular illnesses.

"Only if they didn't find any of the normal viruses or bacteria of which there's many, then the vet might think let's have a test to see if we can find the Covid-19 virus."

The cat and its family have all since made a full recovery and there was no further transmission to other people or animals.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: "Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.

"This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days."There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.

"We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change."

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