On September 6, 2022, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its “dashboard” that tracks confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States. The data continues to show that the incidence of the COVID-19 virus in animals is quite low.
APHIS presented the information in dashboard form as follows:
Since APHIS’ last update on April 11, 2022, the number of confirmed cases in companion and other animals in human care showed only a small increase from 362 to 394 cases. Confirmed cases in mink farms remained constant at 18. States with confirmed cases increased from 26 to 28 states. APHIS mapped the geographic distribution of confirmed animal cases as follows:
The variants of SARS-CoV-2 detected in animals were as follows:
Beyond companion animals and other animals in human care, APHIS noted diagnoses had been confirmed in single animals in the following species: binturong, coati, cougar, ferret, fishing cat, lynx, mandrill and squirrel monkey.
With money from the American Rescue Plan, APHIS has a number of current projects aimed at understanding SARS-CoV-2 and how it moves between people and animals. Two projects scheduled to start in the fall of 2022 include:
- Development of a aptamer-based lateral flow assay that will be capable of identifying multiple virus variants in animals and that can be used to help farmers, veterinarians and regulatory agencies address and monitor SARS-CoV-2 in animals.
- SARS-CoV-2 testing for dogs and cats and the establishment of a framework and build networks for information sharing and outreach.
APHIS continues to observe that, while its experts “are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals . . . there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Based on the limited available information to date, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is low.”