If we are still learning about how coronavirus spreads among humans and why some people are much sicker than others, then we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to pets.
While the number of infected animals worldwide remains relatively low, the first dog in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has unfortunately died. .
National Geographic has identified the puppy as Buddy, a 7-year-old German shepherd from Staten Island, New York, in an exclusive interview with his family that he published this week. Buddy passed away on July 11, just two and a half months after he started wheezing and developing thick mucus in his nose. But the Mahoney family’s struggle to put him to the test and to fully understand why his pet’s health declined so rapidly, and whether lymphoma, which was not diagnosed until the day he died, represented there is the subject he illustrates. effect of virus on animals.
“Tell people that your dog was positive and that they look at you [as if you have] 10 heads, “Allison Mahoney, one of Buddy’s owners, told National Geographic.”[Buddy] it was the love of our lives … It brought joy to everyone. I can’t wrap my head around. ”
The family explained that Buddy began to have difficulty breathing in mid-April, when Allison’s husband, Robert Mahoney, had been ill with the same virus for three weeks. “I thought, without a shadow of a doubt [Buddy] it was positive, ”Robert said.
Related: Can my dog or cat get coronavirus? Can I kiss my pet? The FDA video warns pet owners about the spread of COVID-19
But the first vets they visited were skeptical that Buddy had the coronavirus. In some cases, clinics simply did not have COVID-19 tested. The third clinic Mahoneys visited finally tested Buddy, and she tested positive for COVID-19 on May 15, a month after her symptoms began. On May 20, he did a negative test for the virus, indicating that he was no longer present in his body, although he did have the antibodies to it, which was additional evidence that he had been infected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture verified in a June 2 press release that Buddy was the first confirmed case of canine COVID-19 in the country.
Buddy’s diagnosis provoked further questions: could he have spread it to the ten-month-old German Shepherd puppy dog, duke, or anyone else in the house? (No.) Had he hired Robert? (It seems likely.) And why did this otherwise healthy health suddenly crash, despite being prescribed antibiotics and steroids? (He has not yet been diagnosed with possible lymphomas.) He lost weight and began to have trouble walking. And on the morning of July 11, the poor dog began vomiting clotted blood. There was nothing he could do that the family or the vets could do for Buddy, so they made the difficult decision to euthanize him.
But new blood work done the day Buddy was euthanized revealed he probably had lymphoma, a type of cancer, that could explain some of his symptoms to the end. But it is still unclear whether this underlying condition made him more vulnerable to coronavirus, or whether the coronavirus was the one that first emitted it, or whether it was a bad coincidence.
The Mahoneys have no guilt or ill will towards the clinic. “I think they are also learning. Everything is trial and error. And they tried to help us in the best way possible, ”Allison said.
They want health officials to have an autopsy (essentially a pet autopsy or a postmortem medical examination) to learn more about the virus in Buddy’s body. The family does not remember anyone who asked them about an autopsy on the day Buddy was euthanized, although they admit the sad day was a blur. Robert Cohen, the veterinarian at the Bay Street animal clinic who treated Buddy, and who lost his father to COVID-19 just a couple of weeks ago, told National Geographic he asked the health department to New York if it needed Buddy’s body to follow up. research. But when the NYCDOH responded with the decision to do an autopsy, Buddy had already been burned. So we don’t know for sure if the coronavirus is the one that killed Buddy.
“While Buddy ‘s tests indicated SARs-CoV-2 infection [the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19], also had lymphoma, which can cause clinical signs similar to those described, and most likely was a major reason for his illness and eventually his death, “Dr. Doug Kratt, president of American, told MarketWatch Medical Veterinary Association (AVMA) by mail.
“We have a lot more to learn about this virus and this disease,” he continued. “Research has been conducted to determine the full extent of SARS-CoV-2, how it can affect infection with the virus and which animals are susceptible and why (or why not).”
Related:Owners warned to stop kissing pets like the last UK to sound the alarm about a coronavirus-infected cat
While this case raises many questions about coronavirus in animals, here’s what we know. In addition, there are very few cases of COVID-19 in animals, especially those related to humans. While the virus has infected more than 17 million people worldwide, there are fewer than 25 confirmed cases in pets worldwide, although it should be noted that there has been no widespread pet testing.
The CDC does not yet recommend routine pet testing, largely because there is no evidence that pets spread the virus to people and also because there are many health problems that can cause COVID-19-like symptoms in pets. pets. “Because these other conditions are much more common than SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals, routine pet testing for SARS-CoV-2 is not currently recommended by veterinary infectious disease experts, animal health officials, or veterinarians. public health, “said Dr. Said Kratt. “Testing may be appropriate in certain situations after a veterinarian has completely analyzed a pet to rule out other causes of its disease.”
So it’s not clear how many pets in the United States have been tested, or how many can carry the coronavirus.
“We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets,” or to rush to test them en masse, CDC official doctor Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP. there is evidence that pets play an important role in the spread of this disease to people. ”In addition, pets that get sick often have mild symptoms and usually recover.
But Buddy’s fatal case raises questions about whether more pets should be tested moving forward or whether animals with underlying conditions could be more vulnerable to the virus in the same way that COVID has affected people with pre-existing health conditions the most. 19. “It is certainly likely that the underlying condition can weaken the dog’s natural defenses for many things,” a South Carolina veterinarian told National Geographic.
The FDA and CDC recommend that people practice social distancing with their pets, such as keeping dogs on the leash and six meters away from dogs and people who are not from their home. Anyone who gets sick with coronavirus should isolate themselves from their pets, if possible, as there is evidence that pets can catch the virus from humans. And the UK’s top veterinarian has warned pet owners to stop kissing their pets, to share food with them or to share beds with them.
Click here to learn more about what we know about pets and coronaviruses so far, as well as to answer many questions about caring for pets during the pandemic.
And for more information, see the following resources:
American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org
The Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus
Read more about MarketWatch coronavirus coverage here.