More case reports and studies are showing that various animals and even wild life are contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and this is not good news as these creatures could end up being reservoirs of the virus and even worse while in these animals, the virus could experience recombinant events involving other animal viruses and potentially create a new dangerous strain that could be passed back to humans via zoonotic transmissions.
Even if this does not occur, mutations could still occur while in these animals and create a more concerning strain.
SARS-CoV-2 Infection Confirmed In A Canada Lynx At A Pennsylvania Zoo
The USDA’s or the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in a Canada lynx at a zoo in Pennsylvania. This is the first Canada lynx confirmed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in America.
Specimen samples were taken from the lynx after it showed signs of infection including coughing and lethargy.
Although the USDA has previously announced each new species confirmed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States, moving forward, these cases will be posted on USDA’s website and a separate announcement will not be issued.
Confirmed cases in animals are posted at the USDA SARS-CoV-2 in Animals Dashboard.
The USDA will continue to closely monitor cases of the infection in animals, will complete surveillance for the virus in animals under the American Rescue Plan framework, and will report cases to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
To date, SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in several animal species worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.
At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. State, Tribal, local, and territorial animal health and public health officials will work with USDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make determinations about whether animals should be tested for SARS-CoV-2, using a One Health approach.
Humans with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with petsand other animals to protect them from possible infection.
For additional information about COVID-19 and animals and recommendations for pet owners and people who work around animals, visit:
Risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people
Based on the available information to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to people. More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by SARS-CoV-2.
Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to people and then spread between people, but this is rare. This is what happened with SARS-CoV-2, which likely originated in bats.
People can spread SARS-CoV-2 to animals, especially during close contact.
Reports of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 have been documented around the world. Most of these animals became infected after contact with people with COVID-19, including owners, caretakers, or others who were in close contact. We don’t yet know all of the animals that can get infected. Animals reported infected include:
- Companion animals, including pet cats, dogs, and ferrets.
- Animals in zoos and sanctuaries, including several types of big cats, otters, non-human primates, a binturong, a coatimundi, a fishing cat, and hyenas.
- Mink on mink farms.
- Wild white-tailed deer in several U.S. states.
For information on how to protect pets and animals:
- If You Have Pets
- Companion Animals with COVID-19: Toolkit for Health Officials
- Veterinary Clinics: Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance
- Reducing Risk of Spreading COVID-19 between People and Wildlife
- Interim recommendations for intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are presentexternal icon
Mink and SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in farmed mink worldwide. Currently, there is no evidence that mink are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 to people.
SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in mink on farms in multiple countries.
In the United States, respiratory disease and increases in mink deaths have been seen on most affected mink farms. However, some infected mink might also appear healthy. Infected workers likely introduced SARS-CoV-2 to mink on the farms, and the virus then began to spread among the mink. Once the virus is introduced on a farm, spread can occur between mink, as well as from mink to other animals on the farm (dogs, cats). One wild and one escaped mink found near affected farms in Utah were found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Currently, there is no evidence that mink play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people. However, there is a possibility of mink spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people on mink farms. Mink-to-human spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Poland, and new data suggest it might have occurred in the United States.
- Investigations found that mink from a Michigan farm and a small number of people were infected with SARS-CoV-2 that contained unique mink-related mutations (changes in the virus’s genetic material). This suggests mink-to-human spread might have occurred.
- Finding these mutations in mink on the Michigan farm is not unexpected because they have been seen before in mink from farms in the Netherlands and Denmark, and also in people linked to mink farms worldwide.
- To confirm the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from mink to people, public health officials would need more information on the epidemiology and genetics of the virus in mink, mink farm workers, and the communities around mink farms.
- These results highlight the importance of routinely studying the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 in susceptible animal populations like mink, as well as in people.