Dog Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Winston The Pug Becomes First-Known Pup To Have COVID-19 In America

'There may be more animals that have coronavirus, there just isn't any testing,' said a human family member of the dog.

closeup of a pug
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'There may be more animals that have coronavirus, there just isn't any testing,' said a human family member of the dog.

A North Carolina family’s dog, a pug named Winston, has tested positive for coronavirus, the first-known case of a canine in the United States to have contracted the pathogen.

As CBS News reports, Winston and his family, the McLeans of Chapel Hill, are participants in the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI), a Duke University study looking at the transmission of coronavirus in families.

Of the humans enrolled in the study, the mother, father, and son all tested positive for the virus, though none of them had symptoms. The family’s daughter did not. The other family dog did not test positive, and neither did the family cat. The family’s lizard was not tested.

As for Winston, mom Heather McLean said that the pup had mild symptoms.

Son Ben postulated that his mother, a pediatrician, brought home the virus to the family. From there, Ben hypothesizes that it’s pretty easy to figure out how Winston got it.

“[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. So, it makes sense that he got [the virus],” Ben said.

Dr. Chris Woods, the lead investigator of the Duke study, says that this is the first known instance of a dog in the U.S. contracting coronavirus.

“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,” he said.

Ben McLean says that there may be more animals that have gotten the virus, but since there isn’t widespread testing, it’s impossible to get an accurate picture. What’s more, McLean notes that what tests are available should be used on humans.

McLean also suggested that, though it appears pets can contract the virus, and even get sick, for now it doesn’t look like it’s particularly harmful to them.

Winston’s COVID-19 diagnosis comes just a day after The Inquisitr reported that domestic cats have turned up with the illness as well.

Two pet cats in New York tested positive for COVID-19. The animals endured mild symptoms and made full recoveries.

That the cats contracted the virus spurred the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue social-distancing guidelines for pets. Specifically, a spokesperson recommended keeping family pets at least 6 feet from strangers and other nonhuman animals. And if a pet becomes sick with respiratory ailments, the family should resist the urge to give the animal cuddles and snuggles, and instead give him or her space to recover.