By CBS3 Staff

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania officials have confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 positive cat. State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill said the 16-year-old cat from Cumberland County lived in a home with multiple people who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The cat had presented a mild respiratory illness in early October. Due to respiratory distress, the cat was euthanized.

The case is still under investigation, and a primary cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

State officials say the cat is one of a handful of COVID-19 positive pets from across the United States that have died or were euthanized while infected.

All pets infected had known prolonged exposure to COVID-19 individuals and none to date appear to have died from COVID-19. Instead, other serious underlying illnesses are attributable to the cause of death.

“As Pennsylvanians have spent more time at home throughout the pandemic, our companion animals have undoubtedly been the recipients of extra love and attention,” Dr. Brightbill said. “If you or a loved one becomes diagnosed with COVID-19, take steps to keep your pet healthy, just as you would your family.”

Many of the same recommendations for protecting people apply to animals.

Households with COVID-19 positive individuals should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Avoid contact with pets and other animals, as you would other people.
  • Arrange for another household member to care for your pet(s) while you or family members are in isolation.
  • Avoid contact such as petting, holding, snuggling, facial contact, and sleeping in the same bed.
  • Wear a mask and wash your hands before feeding or tending to your pet if you are unable to find alternative care for them.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 in pets includes fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nose or eye discharge, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If your pet exhibits symptoms after contact with a person positive for COVID-19, contact your veterinarian.

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. COVID-19 is mainly spread through person-to-person contact.

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