N.C. pug tests positive for COVID-19

It is believed the dog contracted the virus from contact with his owners, who have tested positive for novel coronavirus

A pug living in North Carolina has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, becoming the first known dog in North America to be diagnosed with the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

The animal, Winston, lives in a home with three people who have tested positive for novel coronavirus, TIME reports. It is believed the dog, who the family says has since recovered, became infected through human contact.

“To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog,” says the study’s principal investigator, Chris Woods, MD. “Little additional information is known at this time as we work to learn more about the exposure.”

Winston’s family is participating in an ongoing research study examining how the body responds to infection. The mother, father, and son tested positive for COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, the study, Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI), has focused on people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Another member of the household has since tested negative for the virus, along with a second dog and a cat, reports Reuters.

The news follows last week’s announcement that two domestic cats in New York State tested positive for SARS-CoV-19. Like Winston, it is believed the felines contracted the virus through contact with infected humans.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated, at this time, there is no evidence suggesting pets can transmit COVID-19 to humans, adding more testing is needed to understand how different animals could be affected by the virus.

Until more is known, CDC recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where groups of people and dogs gather.

Additionally, if you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with pets just as you would with people. Specifically:

  • Have another member of your household care for your pets, when possible.
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

For more information on animals and COVID-19, click here.

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