Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): how to spot and report the disease

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease in animals.

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There is limited evidence that some animals, including pets, can become infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) - the virus that causes COVID-19 - following close contact with infected humans.  

Since 22 February 2021, there has been a legal obligation in Scotland to report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in all mammals (except man). 

To report SARS-CoV-2 in Scotland, please contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Field Services Office.

As SARS-CoV-2 is a reportable disease, this requires any positive results from mammals (except man) to be reported to government. If a mutated strain of public health importance is found, the government may wish to utilise powers, including isolation and movement restrictions. However, we would like to stress that control measures would only be taken as a last resort.

If you are concerned about your pet because it has respiratory signs, or digestive problems, you should contact your vet who will decide whether testing is required. Your vet can decide for you if your pet meets the requirement for testing. Any testing would be at the owner’s expense.

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 should only be undertaken where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal.

It is rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they may show only mild clinical signs and recover within a few days.

Ferret and other Mustelinae register

Ferrets, mink and other members of the Mustelinae family are very susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They can infect members of their own species and there is evidence that mink can pass the infection back to humans.

If there is a confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets, you may be contacted with information and advice about disease prevention measures.

The movement of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 may be restricted in line with The Zoonoses Order (1989) as amended and The Animal Health Act (1981).

How to sign up to the register

You’ll need the following information to join the register:

  • your contact details
  • the address(es) where you keep the animals
  • the number of animals you keep
  • the species you keep
  • the main reason you keep the animal, for example as a pet or working animal

If you are a keeper in Scotland you can use the ferret register or call 01466 794323.


Specific COVID-19 guidance for ferret owners

  • if you, or your household, are required to self-isolate because of COVID-19, your ferret should also isolate. This is because there may be a link between ferrets and the transmission of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). If you are self-isolating for COVID-19, ask someone else to care for your ferrets. Otherwise you should always wear a facemask and gloves, avoid kissing and cuddling the animals, make sure you wash your hands and limit the time spent with animals.
  • your ferret should isolate for three weeks (21 days) and must not be allowed out of your household, unless in a veterinary emergency
  • people with pet ferrets do not need to isolate for three weeks (21 days) and can complete their regular isolation period. However, their ferret should stay indoors until their specific three week (21 day) isolation period is complete
  • if you are returning from outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) with a pet ferret, your ferret should isolate for 21 days because there may be a link between ferrets and the transmission of new strains of the virus
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