A pug in North Carolina has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first known infection in a dog in the United States, according to US media.
The pet, named Winston, was part of a Duke University study on April 1 in which the whole household was tested for the virus, local TV channel WRAL reported.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 was detected” in the dog, Dr Chris Woods, the lead investigator of the university’s Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection, told the outlet, adding that he believed it was the country’s first such case.
In the household, the mother, father and son also tested positive while the daughter, another dog and a cat tested negative. The family’s pet lizard was not tested.
The pug was exhibiting mild symptoms for a few days, according to the mother, Heather McLean.
“There was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs, you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual,” she told WRAL.
The pug joins the ranks of a Pomeranian in Hong Kong that was the world’s first dog to test positive for the virus in February.
Several cases have since been reported in pet cats and eight tigers and lions in a New York zoo.
Research suggests that dogs are susceptible to infection but appear to be less affected than ferrets or cats, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
“To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant a role in spreading the disease,” according to the organisation’s website.