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the coronavirus crisis

New York cats become 1st pets to test positive for coronavirus in the U.S.

The first known instances of pets contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States have been confirmed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories said on Wednesday that two pet cats in separate areas of New York tested positive for the coronavirus, Axios reports. In the case of the first cat, no one in the household had tested positive for COVID-19, although in the second case, the owner did test positive. Both cats are expected to recover after having mild respiratory illnesses, a statement said.

The USDA said "these are the first pets in the United States to test positive" for the coronavirus. In the case of the first pet, the "virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home," officials said.

The Associated Press notes this "adds to a small number of confirmed cases of the virus in animals worldwide" after seven tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo previously tested positive. The CDC's Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, though, noted to the AP that "there's no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people" and that "we don't want people to panic" or "be afraid of pets." Those who become sick with COVID-19 are, however, recommended to limit contact with pets, and the CDC suggests keeping cats indoors.