July 27 (UPI) -- British health officials announced Monday that a cat has tested positive for COVID-19 after contracting the disease from its owners, who have recovered from the illness.
Christine Middlemiss, British chief veterinary officer, said Monday the cat had experienced mild symptoms and there was not evidence a person could contract the coronavirus from a pet.
"All available evidence suggests that the cat was infected from its owners, who had previously tested positive," said Margaret Hosie of the MRC-University of Glasgow Center for Virus Research, who conducted research on the feline.
"The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household," she said.
The cat's diagnosis was confirmed Wednesday after tests from the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge.
The pet cat was initially diagnosed at a private veterinarian's office with feline herpes virus, a cat respiratory infection, officials said. COVID-19 was found when the sample was tested as part of a research program.
Public Health England's Medical Director, Yvonne Doyle, told the Guardian the domestic cat with coronavirus was a reminder for pet owners to wash their hands after touching a pet.
"The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal and not the other way round," Doyle said. "At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans."
Several other pets have tested positive for the coronavirus, including a tiger at the Bronx Zoo and animals in Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, British officials said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that two pet cats in New York City had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The cats were described as having "mild respiratory illness" and were expected to make a full recovery, the agency said.
"SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19," the CDC said.
The World Health Organization has said that examples of dogs, cats and pet ferrets with COVID-19 have been diagnosed worldwide. Cats and ferrets may be able to transmit the infection to another animal of the same species, the agency said.
"However, there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to humans and spread COVID-19."