A North Carolina family’s pug, Winston, may be the first dog in the United States to test positive for coronavirus, according to researchers.
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The family found out their dog, Winston, tested positive for the virus too after they participated in a Duke University study about Covid-19 aimed at trying to find potential treatments and vaccines. As part of the study, members of the family under go weekly nasal swabs and give blood samples.
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“His (Winston’s) amount of virus that we detected was very low, suggesting that he would not be a likely mechanism or vector of transmission of virus to either other animals or to, to humans in these households,” said Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the study.
Sam McLean, a researcher and emergency room doctor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was the first member of the family to get sick, his wife Heather McLean said. He had treated Covid-19 patients before he got sick.
Winston did show some minor symptoms while his family was also sick. “He had a small cough for a day or two right in the peak when all of us were sick … But we didn’t have any concrete, like, super alarming illnesses where … we need to take him to the vet. He’s like really sick.”
Woods said researchers don’t know if coronavirus made Winston sick, or if he had an unrelated ailment. The McLeans have another dog and a cat, whose tests were negative.
Winston tends to lick things and likes to spend more time around his family, Heather McLean said. The other animals are more aloof. “Winston is much more affectionate and we hold them all the time, so if any of the animals were to have a positive viral test, it would be him.”
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Experts have stressed that there is no evidence that pets play a part in transmitting coronavirus.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, … “there is no evidence whatsoever that we’ve seen, from an epidemiological standpoint, that pets can be transmitters within the household.”
William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, said that it is extremely rare for a virus to jump from an animal to a human.
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“We still don’t think this is common and we certainly don’t think it’s a major route of transmission in either direction,” Schaffner said. “It’s not common for people to give it to their pets, nor has it been demonstrated ever that anyone’s ever gotten this virus from a pet.”
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Heather McLean said that her family is now out of quarantine … and Dr. McLean has volunteered to work in a special Covid-19 unit in the emergency room, because he thinks he’ll be at less risk than colleagues who haven’t been infected.
Heather McLean and Ben McLean hope to be able to donate plasma, so their antibodies can help patients.
… Winston is also doing well. He is getting lots of walks, and enjoying following his family around the house to keep an eye on what they’re doing.
For the full CNN article, go to: CNN Pug Report 2020-04-29
What to do if you own pets
Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection.
- 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 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
There is a small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.
Protect pets if you are sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people. Until we know more about this virus, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- 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 cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.
For more information visit: What to Do if You are Sick.
Stay healthy around animals
In the United States, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
- Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
- Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
- Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
- Be aware that children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 years of age and older are more likely to get sick from germs some animals can carry.
For more information, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.