*Data directly from the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, infect only animals and do not infect 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, and non-human primates.
- 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 present
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.
Guidance is available to protect worker and animal health, developed collaboratively by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), CDC, and state animal and public health partners using a One Health approach:
Prevent Introduction of SARS-CoV-2 on Mink Farms: Interim SARS-CoV-2 Guidance and Recommendations for Farmed Mink and Other Mustelids
Response and Containment Guidelines: Interim Guidance for Animal Health and Public Health Officials Managing Farmed Mink and other Farmed Mustelids with SARS-CoV-2
*All information is updated from the CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html