N.C. dog dies after testing positive for virus that causes COVID-19 in humans

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 1:27 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - A dog in North Carolina died after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday. This is the first dog-positive case of the virus reported in the state.

A person brought the dog to the NC State Veterinary Hospital around 6 p.m. last Monday after the animal began showing signs of respiratory distress earlier in the day.

“The dog, unfortunately, succumbed to its acute illness,” NCDHHS said. The dog later tested positive for SARS-Cov-2. The client told veterinary staff that a family member had previously tested positive for COVID-19 but had since tested negative.

An investigation is underway to determine whether the dog had any other underlying health conditions.

“Based on the information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low,” said Dr. Carl Williams, State Public Health Veterinarian. Still, other pets in the home are being evaluated to determine if pet-to-pet transmission may have occurred.

According to the CDC and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, there is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “There is no indication at this time that dogs can transmit the virus to other animals, so there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Meckes said.

Pet owners who are concerned about the health of their dog are urged to contact their veterinarian to discuss the dog’s symptoms prior to bringing them in.

“Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare,” the CDC says. This is what happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19, with the virus likely originating in bats.”

Click here for more information from the CDC on SARS-CoV-2.

NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health and NCDA&CS says they are closely monitoring the emerging information about COVID-19 and its consequences for domestic animals.

The CDC says a small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States. Most of these pets became sick after contact with people with COVID-19.

Several lions and tigers at a New York zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after showing signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the CDC says. The animals have fully recovered.

SARS-CoV-2 was also recently discovered in mink on multiple farms in the Netherlands.

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