A North Carolina family’s pug may be the first dog in the United States to test positive for coronavirus, according to researchers.
Three members of the McClean family — Sam McClean, wife Heather and their son, Ben — contracted Covid-19 last month. Sydney McClean, the couple’s daughter, was the only family member to never show any symptoms.
The family found out their dog, Winston, tested positive for the virus too after they participated in a Duke University study about Covid-19 aimed at trying to find potential treatments and vaccines. As part of the study, members of the family under go weekly nasal swabs and give blood samples.
Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the study, said researchers have also been collecting samples from family pets to see how coronavirus spreads in households. Researchers did not use the commercial tests that are in high demand around the world to test the animals.
Although they haven’t tested many pets, Winston’s sample is the only one that’s come back positive. He is believed to be the first dog in the country to test positive for the virus, according to the university.
“His (Winston’s) amount of virus that we detected was very low, suggesting that he would not be a likely mechanism or vector of transmission of virus to either other animals or to, to humans in these households,” Woods said.
Sam McClean, a researcher and emergency room doctor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was the first member of the family to get sick, his wife Heather McClean said. He had treated Covid-19 patients before he got sick.
Winston did show some minor symptoms while his family was also sick.
“He had a small cough for a day or two right in the peak when all of us were sick and he didn’t eat his breakfast one morning,” Ben McClean told CNN. “But we didn’t have any concrete, like, super alarming illnesses where we’re like, ‘we need to take him to the vet. He’s like really sick.'”
Woods said researchers don’t know if coronavirus made Winston sick, or if he had an unrelated ailment.
The McCleans have another dog and a cat, whose tests were negative.