If we are still learning how the coronavirus spreads among humans and why some people get sick more than others – then we have barely scratched the surface with what it does for pets.
While the number of infected animals worldwide remains relatively low, the first American dog to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the new 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, 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 began to wear out and develop thick mucus in his nose. But the Mahoney family̵7;s struggle to get him tested and to fully understand why their pet’s health declined so quickly – and if the lymphoma, which was not diagnosed until the day he died, played a part in it – illustrates just how questions remain about the effect of the virus on animals.
“You tell people your dog was positive, and they look at you [as if you have] 10 heads, “Allison Mahoney, one of Buddy’s owners, told National Geographic.”[Buddy] was the love of our lives … He brought joy to all. I can not wrap my head around him. ”
The family clarified that Buddy began to show difficulty breathing in mid-April, when Allison Robert’s husband Robert Mahoney had been ill with the virus itself for three weeks. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought [Buddy] it was positive, “Robert said.
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But the first vets they visited were skeptical that Buddy had the coronavirus. In some cases, clinics simply did not have the COVID-19 test to detect. The third clinic Mahoneys visited 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 he 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 being in the country.
Buddy’s diagnosis prompted more questions: could he have spread it to the family’s 10-month-old German Shepherd puppy, Duke, or anyone else in the house? (He did not.) Had he contracted it from Robert? (This seems plausible.) And why was the dog’s health otherwise collided suddenly, despite being on prescription antibiotics and steroids? (He had 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 began to vomit clotted blood. There was nothing more the family or veterinarians could do for Buddy, so they made the difficult decision to enrich him.
But new blood work done the day Budi was euthanized revealed that he certainly had lymphoma, a type of cancer, which 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 coronavirus is what made him first ill – or whether it was simply time, coincidence.
Mahoneys have no guilt or bad desire for the clinic. “I think they are learning as well. It’s all trial and error. And they tried to help us in the best way they could,” Allison said.
They wish health officials had performed a necropsy (essentially a pet autopsy, or postpartum medical examination) to learn more about the virus in Buddy’s body. The family does not remember anyone asking them for a necropsy the day Budi was euthanized, however, although they admit the sad day was a turmoil. Robert Cohen, the vet at the Bay Street Animal Clinic who treated Buddy – and who lost his father to COVID-19 just a few weeks ago – told National Geographic he asked the NYC Department of Health if he needed Buddy’s body for pursuing his research. But by the time NYCDOH responded with a decision to do a necropsy, Buddy was already celebrating. So we do not know for sure if the coronavirus is the one that killed Budin.
“While Buddy testing has shown an infection with SARS-CoV-2 [the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19], he also had lymphoma, which can cause clinical signs similar to those described, and was most likely a major cause of his illness and eventual death, “said Dr. Doug Kratt, president of the American Society of Veterinary Medicine (AVMA), for MarketWatch by email.
“We have a lot more to learn about this virus and this disease,” he continued. “Research is underway to determine the full extent of SARS-CoV-2, how the virus infection can affect animals, and which animals are susceptible and why (or why not).”
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As this case raises many questions about coronavirus in animals, here is what we know. On the plus side, there are very few cases of COVID-19 in animals, especially in 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 there have been no widespread pet testing.
The CDC is not yet recommending routine testing for pets, mainly because there is no evidence that pets are spreading the virus to humans, and also because there are many health issues that can cause COVID-19-like symptoms in 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 public health veterinarian, “Dr Tha Kratt. “Testing may be appropriate in certain situations as a pet has been fully evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out other causes of their illness.”
So it remains unclear how many pets in the US have been tested, or how long they can carry the coronavirus.
“We do not want people to panic. We do not want people to be afraid of pets,” or rush to try them out en masse, CDC official Dr Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP. “There is no evidence that pets are playing a role in the spread of this disease to humans. ”Furthermore, pets that get sick usually have mild symptoms and usually recover.
But Buddy’s fatal question raises the question of whether more pets should be tested moving forward, or whether animals with underlying conditions may be more susceptible to the virus in the same way that many people with pre-existing health conditions have been hit. more from COVID- 19. “Of course the underlying condition is likely to 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 distancing with their pets, such as keeping dogs in a caterpillar and six feet away from dogs and people outside their family. Anyone infected with the coronavirus should be isolated from pets, if possible, as there is evidence that pets can catch the virus from humans. And the UK veterinary chief has warned pet owners to stop kissing their pets, sharing food with them or sharing beds with them.
Click here for more information about what we know about pets and coronavirus so far, as well as answers to many questions about pet care during the pandemic.
And for more information, see the following resources:
American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org
Disease Control Centers: cdc.gov/coronavirus
And read more about MarketWatch coronavirus coverage here.