March 22, 2020

Dear AEMV Member:

In these unprecedented and ever evolving times with COVID-19 we want to provide our membership with some information regarding species that are potentially at risk for this virus.  

I would like to thank Dr. Cheryl Greenacre, Dr. Jennifer Graham, and Dr. Angela Lennox who have been tirelessly working with me to gather scientific information, communicate with experts in the field, and help craft this letter so that AEMV can disseminate facts and not rumors to our members.

Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people. After experimental infection with the SARS coronavirus first identified in 2003 called SARS-CoV-1, which is closely related to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), it was demonstrated that cats and ferrets shed the virus, and that ferrets also developed clinical signs and transmitted the disease to other non-inoculated ferrets. 1,2

Veterinary schools, zoos, and research facilities throughout the world are concerned about a plethora of potentially susceptible species. Currently there are several zoological institutions with collections of endangered black footed ferrets that have instituted COVID-19 protocols to help protect these animals. Although it is unknown at this time, and again, we are not aware of any transmission from any domestic animal to a human, there is a potential that domestic ferrets are susceptible to COVID-19. It would be prudent to take precautions when admitting ferrets with respiratory disease by following the CDC guidance for public health personnel interacting with humans with potential COVID-19 (respirator or facemask, gown, gloves, and eye protection) titled “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings” which can be found here:

The point of this email is not to incite panic among you or your clients but simply to recommend you read the information provided, stay up to date, and make your own decisions on how to handle these species in your practices and effectively communicate with your clients. Another great source of information that is updated daily is the AVMA website on COVID-19:

1. Martina BE 1 Haagmans BL Kuiken T Fouchier RA Rimmelzwaan GF Van Amerongen G Peiris JS Lim W Osterhaus AD . SARS virus infection of cats and ferrets. Nature.  2003 Oct 30;425(6961):915.
2. Yong-Kyu Chu, Georgia D. Ali, Fuli Jia, Qianjun Li, David Kelvin, Ronald C. Couch, Kevin S. Harrod, Julie A. Hutt, Cheryl Cameron, Susan R. Weiss, and Colleen B. Jonsson. The SARS-CoV Ferret Model in an Infection-Challenge Study. Virology . 2008 April 25; 374(1): 151–163.

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians:
International Primatological Society:
World Health Organization:


Melissa A. Kling, DVM