For the first time, a dog in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus. Woof.
Winston, an adorable pug who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was tested by Duke University scientists from MESSI, the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection.
His human mom, Heather McLean, is a pediatrician at Duke. Her husband works in the emergency room at UNC Hospitals. Along with their human son, both tested positive for COVID-19. Their human daughter Sydney, cat, and other dog all tested negative.
“Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way. So it almost seems like he was gagging, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual,” Dr. McLean told WRAL.
McLean’s son Ben said that the family lets Winston lick their plates, sleep in their beds, and nuzzle them face to face. All are part of the fun of having a dog as a pet, but it would appear that these activities might have exposed Winston to the coronavirus.
Thankfully, Winston was only sick for a few days, and the family says he’s doing much better now.
In light of these cases, the CDC cautions people to treat their pets like any other member of the family, making sure they don’t come into contact with potential carriers of the virus, human and animal alike.
To date, “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” but a better safe than sorry approach is warranted for the safety of humans and animals alike.