1st pet dog in US with COVID-19, dies
Does this mean that coronavirus is infecting dogs? Is it killing them? Can they pass it to us?
This scary headline gets readers, but we don’t need to worry. Your dog won’t kill you.
Let’s look at the facts…
Buddy, a 7-year-old German shepherd from Staten Island, New York, was the first dog to test positive for the coronavirus in the United States. He died on July 11 after a three-month illness.
It's unclear whether Buddy died from complications of the coronavirus, which he most likely caught from his owner, Robert Mahoney, who tested positive this spring, or whether he died from lymphoma.
Two veterinarians who were not part of his treatment, but who reviewed Buddy's medical records for National Geographic, told the publication that the dog probably had cancer.
"It's unclear whether cancer made him more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, or if the virus made him ill, or if it was just a case of coincidental timing," the magazine reported.
Buddy got sick in April and Mahoney suspected he had the virus because the owner had tested positive for the coronavirus. Finally, in mid-May, the family found a vet who would test him and who confirmed Buddy was infected. The test came back positive.
The family's other dog, a 10-month-old German Shepherd named Duke, was also tested. His results came back negative.
Follow-up testing just five days later showed the virus was no longer in Buddy's system, though he did have the antibodies, confirming he had had the virus.
By June 2, the US Department of Agriculture announced Buddy was the first dog to test positive for the coronavirus in the US.
"Samples from the dog were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness," the USDA reported at the time. "The dog is expected to make a full recovery."
But that didn't happen. Buddy's health continued to deteriorate. By July 11, Allison Mahoney told National Geographic, she found Buddy throwing up clotted blood. The diagnosis was likely lymphoma, a form of cancer. The Mahoneys decided the time had arrived to euthanize their beloved dog.
Fewer than 28 dogs and cats are confirmed to be infected with coronavirus in the US as of this date.
"The second dog to test positive in the U.S., in Georgia, and the sixth dog, in South Carolina, have both died, for example, and their deaths were attributed to other conditions," National Geographic reported.
This was written by Dr. Jean Dodds (check out her site Hemopet) and explains the situation with coronavirus and dogs very well.
We do not know how much Buddy’s lymphoma may have enabled SARS-CoV-2 infection, what symptoms were attributable to the virus or the lymphoma, how much SARS-CoV-2 possibly could have hastened the effect of the lymphoma.
However, we do know that it is relatively difficult for dogs to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then develop symptoms due to the structure of their ACE2 receptors. ACE2 receptors have different configurations in different species. ACE2 receptors in cats and ferrets are very similar to those in humans, but ACE2 receptors in dogs are less structurally similar.
Additionally, as testing confirmed that Buddy had cleared the virus, he more than likely died from his lymphoma.
Sadly, Buddy was a victim of circumstance due to the confluence of events of cancer, partial immune system shutdown, the coronavirus and anxiety about it, and the unknown. For instance, it was difficult for his family to schedule veterinary appointments because many had curtailed operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, diagnosing his condition early was complicated by the partial shutdown.
All of us will be left with some doubt. The attending veterinarian, Robert Cohen, asked the New York City Department of Health if it wanted Buddy’s body for follow-up research. The city consulted with the United States Department of Agriculture and other federal offices. They decided to perform a necropsy. However, by the time this decision was made, Buddy had been cremated.
We are certain that the lymphoma played the major role in his death, and not SARS-CoV-2 positivity.
It is truly sad that Buddy passed away, and we send our condolences to the Mahoneys.
There is little to no evidence that domestic animals are easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and no evidence to date that they transmit the virus to people.
There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets.
SARS-CoV-2 and Companion Pets Updates July 27, 2020
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease – continues to actively spread throughout the United States, the good news is that fears of companion pets becoming infected and transmitting the virus back to humans have lessened.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states “There is little to no evidence that domestic animals are easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and no evidence to date that they transmit the virus to people.”
There is no evidence that the coronavirus can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets.
The risk of transmission from companion pet to human is considered low according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Infected people can infect pets.
Please only pay attention to cases confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). This department is only reporting on the first animal diagnosed within a household, shelter or zoo-setting at this time. As of July 24, 2020, only a handful – 25 cases – of SARS-CoV-2 have been confirmed in the United States.
As of July 22, 2020, the NVSL is reporting on samples collected as part of a planned and targeted active surveillance of a specific animal, with known or suspected exposures to a person with COVID-19 or other exposure to SARS-CoV-2. This is to better understand risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and its program accounts for 11 of the cases noted above. No one should be alarmed. Hemopet will be watching closely for further updates on this program.
Infected pets might get sick or they might not have any symptoms. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered.
Routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended by the AVMA, CDC, USDA, American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), or the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials.
Veterinarians are strongly urged by these agencies to rule out other and more common causes of illness in companion pets before SARS-CoV-2 testing.
As companion pet testing is handled separately, it does not hinder, human testing capacity.