A pet house cat has become the first animal to be confirmed positive for a coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom, the British government said Monday.
In a news release, the U.K.'s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said that evidence suggested that the animal had contracted the virus from its human owners, who also tested positive. Middlemiss stressed that there is no evidence of animal-to-human transmission of COVID-19.
"This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days," she said.
"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," she continued.
A top health expert with Public Health England, a division of the country's Department of Health and Social Care, added that caution should be taken when handling animals due to the ongoing pandemic.
"This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm," said Yvonne Doyle. "In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals."
The U.K. has confirmed nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19 among humans and has largely flattened its rate of new infections, according to data compiled by The New York Times. More than 45,000 people have died from the disease within the country.