Ferret tests positive for coronavirus in Florida

Ferret tests positive for coronavirus in Florida
© Wikimedia/J. Michael Lockhart/USFWS

A ferret in Florida tested positive for coronavirus, making it the first confirmed with COVID-19 in the United States. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) said in a statement that samples were taken after the animal showed clinical signs of COVID-19, including coughing and sneezing. 

The ferret is suspected to have contracted the virus from a person who had COVID-19.

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The samples returned a presumptive positive test at the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Florida, which was confirmed by NVSL.

Coronavirus infections have been reported in a “small number of animal species worldwide,” the statement said. Most of the animals had close contact with a person who had COVID-19.

According to data from the Department of Agriculture, there have been 231 confirmed positive coronavirus infections on nonfarmed animals and 17 on mink farms. 

Last week, a group of African lions, two Amur tigers and a Sumatran tiger at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., returned “presumptive positive” COVID-19 tests.

In an update on Friday, the zoo said that all of the tigers and three lions are “eating normally and improving,” while three lions are of “greater concern.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to humans is low based on available data. However, the virus can spread from people to animals “in some situations.”

People who test positive for COVID-19 are advised to avoid contact with animals, including pets and wildlife.