As humans continue practicing social distancing, the impact COVID-19 has on animals has been misinterpreted across social media platforms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that companion animals such as dogs and cats can spread COVID-19. There is also no evidence that they can be a source of infection.

The CDC classifies Coronaviruses as a large family of viruses that in very rare cases can cause illness in some animals.

There has been one case reported of an animal testing positive for the virus in the United States; that was at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. The animal was a tiger being kept in the zoo with an underlying respiratory illness. Officials believe the tiger was likely infected by a human that worked at the facility and transmitted the virus to them.

Photo Courtesy of the New York Times and Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society, via Reuters

While the first infections in Wuhan, China were linked to a live animal market, the CDC is cited saying that they do not know the exact source of the 2019 outbreak. They have also ruled that the predominant form of transmission of the virus is human to human contact.

The recommendation by the CDC, if you have tested positive with COVID-19, is to restrict contact with your pets or other animals, just as you would with sick humans. Even though no reports have been made in the U.S. of pets contracting the virus they believe limiting contact until more information is known about the virus is best.

While the Tiger in New York is the first case of its kind, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed with the CDC that it seems the employees spread the virus to the animal. The USDA did not recommend the routine testing of animals for the virus at this time and aligned with the CDC on keeping your distance and avoiding contact with pets if you believe you are sick from COVID-19.

Forms of Coronavirus include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In very rare cases either of these can infect animals and be spread to humans.

There has been a small number of pets recorded outside the United States that were infected with COVID-19 after contracting it from a human, but this evidence does not support that animals can spread it to humans.

There is currently no evidence that supports a risk in imported animals or animal products to the U.S. at this time.