It's not just feline pets at risk of the novel coronavirus. A dog in North Carolina has what may be the first confirmed US case of COVID-19 in canines, NBC News reports via a study out of Duke University. Researchers tested Heather McLean, a professor of pediatrics, and each of her family members for the virus, along with their pets. McLean's daughter, Sydney, tested negative, as did a dog and cat. But a pug named Winston tested positive, along with McLean; her husband, Samuel; and their son, Ben, per WRAL. "To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog," researcher Chris Woods says, per WABC. However, Live Science reports a 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong returned a "weak positive" result on Feb. 28.
The dog died shortly after release from quarantine, though it had exhibited no symptoms. Sadly, Winston did suffer symptoms, including coughs and sneezes. "It almost seems like he was gagging," McLean tells WRAL. She adds "there was one day when he didn't want to eat his breakfast," which was extremely out of character. Ben figures he knows exactly how the pug caught the virus. He "licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom's bed," he says. The CDC is aware of "a small number of pets, including dogs and cats, reported to be infected." It therefore recommends pets be isolated from sick family members and barred from interacting with people or animals outside the home. But given the lack of research, McLean advises pet owners "not to get too worried." (Read more coronavirus stories.)