First Cat COVID-19 Death in Pennsylvania Is Confirmed

A 16-year-old feline in a house where human residents were confirmed to have had COVID-19 contracted the coronavirus and was put down, state health officials said Tuesday.

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An older cat that lived in a house outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the first confirmed feline case of COVID-19 in the state, health officials said Tuesday.

The 16-year-old animal, which lived in a home where human cases of the coronavirus were documented, suffered from respiratory distress and eventually was put down, officials with the state departments of agriculture and health said.

"The 16-year old Cumberland County cat, who lived in a household with multiple individuals who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, presented in early October with mild respiratory illness," the state said in a release. "Unfortunately, as a result of respiratory distress, the cat was humanely euthanized."

The cat is one of several pets across the United States that have been confirmed with the coronavirus.

“As Pennsylvanians have spent more time at home throughout the pandemic, our companion animals have undoubtedly been the recipients of extra love and attention,” the state veterinarian Dr. Kevin 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.”

Pennsylvania's guidelines for keeping pets safe in households with confirmed COVID-19 cases are similar to those for keeping other humans safe in an infected household:

  • 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.

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