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A dog just tested positive for coronavirus for the first time in the US

Published Apr 29th, 2020 2:33PM EDT
Coronavirus: Dog
Image: Jennifer Peltz/AP/Shutterstock

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  • In a recent novel coronavirus research study at Duke University, an entire family was tested for the virus, including their two dogs and their cat.
  • The family’s pug, Winston, tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, making him the first confirmed case of coronavirus in a dog in the United States.
  • The family says that Winston was only sick for a few days and is feeling much better now.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

In the same week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its social distancing guidelines to include pets, the first dog has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States. WRAL in North Carolina reports that a Chapel Hill family participated in a study at Duke University in which the father, mother, and son tested positive for the virus. They also had their pets tested, and their pug, Winston, was positive as well.

Dr. Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the study, confirmed that the “virus that causes COVID-19 was detected” in the dog and said he believed this was the first time a dog has tested positive in the country.

The mother involved in the study was Heather McLean, a pediatrician at Duke, who says Winston was experiencing minor symptoms that led her to believed he might have been infected.

“Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way,” McLean explained to WRAL. “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.”

The McLean family took part in the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI) research study on April 1st. The doctors came to their house and swabbed the noses and mouths of the humans while also taking oral samples from the family’s two dogs and cat. The McLeans also have a lizard, but it was not tested. Winston was the only pet to test positive, while the daughter, Sydney, was the only human to come back negative.

“(Winston) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face,” said the son, Ben McLean. “So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus).” The good news is that Winston was only sick for a few days, and the McLeans say that he’s doing much better now.

“Hopefully we’ll learn more through the research study, and I think because there’s not a lot of studies and sampling pets, we just don’t know yet,” said Heather McLean. “My advice is just not to get too worried about it.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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