A family dog in North Carolina has tested positive for the coronavirus, making it possibly the first confirmed North American canine infection by the virus responsible for COVID-19.
The dog, a pug named Winston, was tested as part of a Duke University research project that studies how coronavirus spreads in households. Study researchers had the test results for weeks but only released the information a few days ago.
The pet's owners, Sam and Heather McLean, had both tested positive in March for the coronavirus after Sam, an emergency-room physician, became ill. One of the couple's two children also tested positive, and they have all since recovered.
The family's other pets, another dog and a cat, tested negative.
The Duke study's principle investigator, Dr. Chris Woods, told CNN that people should not be afraid of contracting the virus from their pets. "I would not change our behaviors with our household animals at this point. They're really an important part of our ongoing mental health as we continue to participate in our social distancing to combat the pandemic."
On April 22, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that two cats living in separate households in New York state had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Both the CDC and the World Health Organization have stated that there is no evidence of the transmission of coronavirus from pets to humans.
The CDC website states: "At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low."
In late April, New York City's Bronx Zoo confirmed that eight of its lions and tigers had tested positive for the coronavirus. All were expected to recover.