If we are still learning about how the coronavirus spreads among humans, and why some people get so sick from others – then we are barely touched by what it does to pets.
While the number of infected animals around the world remains relatively low, the first American dog to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has sadly died.
National Geographic identified the pup as Buddy, a 7-year-old German shepherd from Staten Island, NY, 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 test it and to fully understand why their pets ’health has declined so quickly ̵1; and if lymphoma, which was undiagnosed until the day they died, played a part in it – shows how many questions there are about the effect of the virus on animals.
“You tell people that your dog was positive, and they look at you [as if you have] 10 heads, ”Allison Mahoney, one of the owners of Buddy, told National Geographic. “[Buddy] it was the love of our lives…. He brought joy to all. I can’t wrap my head around it. ”
The family explained that Buddy began to have difficulty breathing in mid-April, when Allison’s husband Robert Mahoney had been ill with the virus himself for three weeks. I thought “Without a shadow of a doubt [Buddy] it was positive, “Robert said.
Related: Can my dog or cat have a coronavirus? Can I make my own pet? FDA video warns pet owners about spreading COVID-19
But the first few vets they visited were skeptical that Buddy had the coronavirus. In some cases, clinicians simply did not have the COVID-19 test on hand to find out. The third clinic that visited the Mahoneys finally tested Buddy, and he was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on May 15, a month after his symptoms began. By May 20, he tested negative for the virus, indicating that it was no longer present in his body – although he had antibodies to it, which was further evidence that he was infected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture verified in a June 2 press release that Buddy was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 dogs in the country.
Buddy’s diagnosis raised further questions, however: could he have spread it to the family of the ten-month-old German shepherd’s puppy, Duke, or anyone else in the house? (He didn’t.) Would he have picked it up from Robert? (It seems likely.) And why was this otherwise healthy dog health suddenly collapsing, despite being on prescription antibiotics and steroids? (She has not yet been diagnosed with possible lymphoma.) He lost weight and began to have trouble walking. And on the morning of July 11, the poor dog started vomiting clotted blood. There was nothing more that the family or veterinarians could do for the Buddy, so they made the difficult decision to call him.
But new blood work done on the day Buddy was euthanized revealed he probably had lymphoma, a type of cancer, which could explain some of his symptoms towards the end. But it’s still unclear whether this underlying condition made him more vulnerable to the coronavirus, or whether the coronavirus is what first made him sick – or whether it was simply bad, a coincidence in time.
The Mahoneys have no fault or bad foot to the clinic. “I think they’re learning too. It’s all trial and error. And they tried to help us in the best way they could,” Allison said.
They want health officials to have done an autopsy (essentially an autopsy for the pet, or a postmortem medical exam) to learn more about the virus in Buddy’s body. The family does not remember anyone asking them about an autopsy on the day Buddy was euthanized, although they admit the sad day was blurry. Robert Cohen, the veterinarian at the Bay Street Animal Clinic who treated Buddy – and who lost his own father to COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago – told National Geographic he asked the Department of Health. ‘NYC whether Buddy’s body is needed for the follow-up. research. But when the NYCDOH responded with a decision to do an autopsy, Buddy had already been cremated. So we don’t know for sure if the coronavirus is what killed Buddy.
“While Buddy testing indicated infection with SRS-CoV-2 [the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19], also had lymphoma, which could cause clinical signs similar to those described, and was likely a primary reason for his disease and ultimately death, “Dr. Doug Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) , he told MarketWatch by email.
“We have a lot more to learn about this virus and this disease,” he continued. “Research is being done to determine how much SARS-CoV-2 can be, how the virus infection can affect animals, and which animals are prone and why (or why not).”
Related:Owners have warned to stop selling pets as the latest in the UK does not sound the warning on a coronavirus-infected cat
While this case raises many questions about coronavirus in animals, here’s what we know. On the other hand, there are many cases of COVID-19 in animals, especially relative to humans. While the virus has infected more than 17 million people worldwide, there are fewer than 25 confirmed cases in pets globally – although it should be noted that widespread pet testing has not been conducted.
The CDC does not yet recommend routine testing for pets, mainly because there is no evidence that pets are spreading the virus to people, and also because there are many issues of health that may cause symptoms similar to COVID-19 in pets. “Because these other conditions are much more common than SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals, routine testing of pets for SARS-CoV-2 is currently not recommended by veterinary experts. infectious diseases, animal health officers, or public health veterinarians, “Dr. Said Kratt. “The tests may be appropriate in certain situations after the pets have been fully evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out other causes of their disease.”
It is therefore unclear how many animals have been tested in the United States, or how much they 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 in bulk, CDC official Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP. -no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people. ”In addition, sick animals usually have mild symptoms, and usually recover.
But Buddy’s fatal case raises questions about whether more pets should be tested to move forward, or whether animals with underlying conditions may be more vulnerable to the virus in the same way that many people with health conditions are. pre-existing conditions have been hit harder than COVID- 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 are recommending that people practice social distance with their pets, such as keeping dogs on a leash and six feet away from dogs and people who are not from their home. Anyone suffering from 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 chief veterinary officer has warned pet owners to stop suffering their pets, share food with them or share beds with them.
Click here for more information on what we know about pets and coronavirus so far, as well as answers to many questions about how to care for pets during a pandemic.
And for more information, check out the following resources:
American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org
Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus
Read more from MarketWatch’s coronavirus coverage here.