First U.S. ferret with COVID-19 confirmed

Florida saw the first reported case of a ferret contracting SARS-CoV-19, the disease that causes COVID-19 in humans. Credit: zoofanatic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the first case of SARS-CoV-19 in a ferret in the United States.

Wildlife workers tested the ferret in Florida after it showed symptoms including coughing and sneezing. They suspect the animal contracted the virus from an infected human.

Researchers discovered last year that ferrets were susceptible to contracting SARS-CoV-19, the disease that causes COVID-19 in humans, based on laboratory tests. A previous case was reported of a ferret contracting the disease in Slovenia.

After that discovery, wildlife managers working with endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) began taking extra precautions while handling those animals early on during the pandemic. Later on in 2020, wildlife managers began vaccinating black-footed ferrets at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center.

Read more at APHIS.