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Zoo tiger highlights possibility of pets getting the coronavirus

Other big cats at zoo showing symptoms of the virus

ROANOKE, Va. – In the age-old debate about whether cats or dogs are better, dogs may now have a new advantage when it comes to the coronavirus.

“We do know that cats can catch the virus from us,” explained Virginia Tech veterinarian Dr. Laura Hungerford.

A tiger at a New York zoo has tested positive for the virus and several other big cats are showing symptoms.

The tiger is believed to have gotten the virus from a zookeeper.

Hungerford emphasized that while this appears to be very rare, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the possibility.

“If you’re sick, treat your pets like any other family member and restrict contact. If your pet is sick, contact your veterinarian. If you’re well, enjoy your pet, enjoy your other family members. Be outside. Take advantage of opportunities to get exercise," Hungerford said.

As of Tuesday, there were no known cases of a pet transmitting the virus to a human.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, dry cough, weakness and difficulty breathing.

The issue of pets and the coronavirus was also a topic of conversation during a coronavirus town hall Monday in Roanoke with local medical professionals.

“Best we can tell, this virus developed in China in a city that’s well known for its open-air meat markets and probably has an animal source," one speaker said. "Animals tend to want to lick your face, lick somebody else, so there’s potential transmission with your pets.”

An important reminder as the virus continues to develop.


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