A dog in Louisiana has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry announced today.
"Initially, it was believed pets could not get the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now learning that animals can be infected," said state agriculture commissioner Mike Strain.
Strain, a veterinarian, said this appears to be a rare occurrence.
"It appears that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact," said Strain. "It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there's no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans.
Strain says pet owners should not fear their companions and he urges Louisianans not to abandon or surrender their pets if they are able to continue caring for them.
"If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, allow a family member or close friend to care for your pets. If no one is available, maintain a safe distance from your pet and frequently wash your hands before and after contact with your pet, their food and supplies," said Strain. "Remember, in the event of any emergency, it is wise to have a pet plan as you would have a game plan for your family."