First dog in US tests positive as CDC says social distancing should apply to pets

Winston the pug at his owners home: (CBS News)
Winston the pug at his owners home: (CBS News)

A pug has become the first dog in the US to test positive for coronavirus, after its owners also contracted Covid-19.

On Monday, Winston, who is owned by a family in North Carolina, was reported to be the first dog in the US to test positive for the virus.

According to WRAL TV, he was tested for a study at Duke University, when his owners became ill after contracting Covid-19.

The whole family, including their pets, were tested for the study, and the mother, father, son and Winston tested positive for the virus, while the daughter, cat and the family’s other dog’s tests came back negative.

Dr Chris Woods, who led the study at the university, told CBS: “To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog. Little additional information is known at this time as we work to learn more about the exposure.”

One of Winston’s owners, Heather McLean, told WRAL that he was showing signs of a cold and wouldn’t eat his breakfast.

“Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way,” she said.

“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.”

Ms Mclean’s son, Ben, told the outlet that he “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.”

Winston recovered from the illness and Ms Mclean told other pet owners, “not to get too worried about it.”

Winston is the first positive case for a dog to be reported in the US, but there have been cases in China.

Cats were reported to have contracted Covid-19 in the US last week, and at the Bronx Zoo, three tigers and five lions tested positive for the virus.

In their guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there is “no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus.”

However, the CDC recommended: “Treat pets as you would other human family members — do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household.

“If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are upwards of 988,469 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 56,253.

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