The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) said in a statement that samples were taken after the animal showed clinical signs of COVID-19, including coughing and sneezing.
The ferret is believed to have contracted the virus from a person who had COVID-19.
The samples returned a presumptive positive test to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Bronson, Florida, which was confirmed by NVSL.
Coronavirus infections have been reported in a “small number of animal species in the world,” the statement said. Most of the animals have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, there were 231 confirmed positive coronavirus infections in uncultivated animals and 17 in mink farms.
Last week, a group of African lions, two Amur tigers and a Sumatran tiger at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, returned “presumptive positive” COVID-19 tests.
In an update Friday, the zoo said all of the tigers and three lions “are eating normally and getting better”, while three lions are “of more concern.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of animals transmitting COVID-19 to humans is low based on available data. However, the virus can spread from humans to animals “in certain situations”.
People who test positive for COVID-19 are advised to avoid contact with animals, including pets and wildlife.