A North Carolina family’s pet dog has tested positive for coronavirus, which was discovered when the family participated in a study at Duke University.
The dog, a pug named Winston, experienced mild symptoms of the virus, according to WRAL in North Carolina.
“To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog,” said Dr. Chris Woods, principal investigator of the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI) research study at Duke, in a statement to The Washington Times. “Little additional information is known at this time as we work to learn more about the exposure.”
Heather McLean, her husband, and their son all contracted the coronavirus, according to WRAL. Mrs. McLean told WRAL the pug appeared to be gagging in an unusual way and did not want to eat his breakfast, which aroused the family’s suspicion. The family’s son reportedly said the dog typically licks their dinner plates clean and sleeps in bed with the mom.
The family has another dog, a cat, and a lizard, none of which tested positive for coronavirus, according to WRAL. Winston is reportedly doing much better, as of this week.
Whether dog breeds known to have respiratory issues such as pugs and certain bulldogs are predisposed to contract or suffer from coronavirus is not yet known, according to Duke University.
The issue of whether pets can contract coronavirus or transmit it to humans has been up for debate in recent weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top scientist at the National Institutes of Health, said last week that pets could get infected but he did not know of evidence suggesting pets could transmit the virus to humans.
“There is no evidence that the virus is transmitted from a pet to a human,” Dr. Fauci said at the coronavirus task force press briefing at the White House on Wednesday. “Now, obviously, is that impossible? I mean, biologically, you know, anything is possible, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that we’ve seen, from an epidemiological standpoint, that pets can be transmitters within the household.”
President Trump interjected to ask Dr. Fauci how a lion in a New York Zoo contracted the virus, to which Dr. Fauci responded he was not sure.
“I don’t know, Mr. President, but I would imagine that one of the zookeepers probably had an asymptomatic infection, took care of the animal, gave him some food, touched him or whatever, and that’s how he got it,” Dr. Fauci said.