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First US Dog Tests Positive for COVID-19, USDA Announces

The German shepherd is expected to make a full recovery.

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A dog in New York state has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced.

It’s the first confirmed case of the infection in a dog in the U.S., according to a press release from the agency.

Samples from the dog, a German shepherd, were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The dog is expected to make a full recovery. One of the dog’s owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog showing signsA second dog in the household has shown no signs of illness; however, antibodies were also identified in that dog, suggesting exposure.  

Infections with the virus have been reported in a small number of animals worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person who was sick with COVID-19. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended, according to the release. State and local animal health and public health officials will work with USDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make determinations about whether animals should be tested for the virus, using a One Health approach.  

USDA will announce confirmed cases each time the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, is found in a new species.  All confirmed cases in animals will be posted here.

The initial dog tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2 at a private veterinary laboratory, which then reported the results to state and federal officials. The confirmatory testing was conducted at NVSL and included collection of additional samples.

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While additional animals may test positive as infections continue in people, it is important to note that performing this animal testing does not reduce the availability of tests for humans, according to the release.  

“We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” the release stated. “Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”

It appears that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact,” according to the release. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection.  

For more information about COVID-19 and animals and recommendations for pet owners, click here.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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