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RIP Buddy: The first dog to be positive for coronaviruses in the United States died



If we keep learning about how the coronavirus spreads among people and why some people are sicker than others, we have barely scratched the surface of what they do with pets.

While the number of animals infected worldwide remains relatively low, the first American dog to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing COVID-19, has unfortunately died.

National Geographic identified the puppies as Buddy, a 7-year-old German Shepherd from Staten Island, NY, in an exclusive interview with her family this week. Buddy passed on July 11, just two and a half months after he started whistling and developing thick mucus in his nose. Mahoney’s efforts to test it and to fully understand why their pet̵

7;s health was deteriorating so rapidly – and whether lymphoma, which had not been diagnosed until the day he died, showed how many questions remain about the viral effect on animals.

“You’re telling people your dog was positive and they’re looking at you.” [as if you have] 10 heads, “said Allison Mahoney, one of Buddy’s owners, National Geographic. “[Buddy] was the love of our lives … It brought joy to everyone. 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 was ill with the virus alone for three weeks. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought.” [Buddy] it was positive, “said Robert.

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However, the first few veterinarians they visited were skeptical that Buddy had a coronavirus. In some cases, clinics simply did not have the COVID-19 test available to find out. A third clinic visited by the Mahoneys finally tested Buddy, and he was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on May 15, a month after the onset of his symptoms. By May 20, he had tested the virus for a negative result, indicating that he was no longer present in the body – although he had antibodies to it, which was further evidence that he was infected. The US Department of Agriculture confirmed in a press release on June 2 that Buddy was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 dogs in the country.

However, Buddy’s diagnosis raised further questions: could he extend it to a 10-month-old German sheepdog of the family, the duke, or anyone else in the house? (He didn’t do it.) Did you close it with Robert? (It seems likely.) And why did the health of this healthy dog ​​suddenly crash, despite taking prescription antibiotics and steroids? (He has not yet been diagnosed with possible lymphoma.) He lost weight and began to have gait problems. And on the morning of July 11, the poor dog began vomiting blood. The family and the veterinarians could do nothing more for Buddy, so they decided to euthanize him.

However, new blood work done on the day Buddy was killed revealed that he probably had lymphoma, a type of cancer that could eventually explain some of his symptoms. However, it is still unclear whether this baseline condition made it more vulnerable to coronavirus, or whether it was coronavirus that caused the disease – or whether it was just bad, random timing.

Mahoneys is not to blame or ill will for the clinic. “I think they are learning too. It’s all a trial and error. And they tried to help us in the best possible way, “said Allison.

They want medical officials to perform an autopsy (basically a pet autopsy or post-mortem medical examination) to learn more about the Buddy body virus. The family does not remember anyone asking them for an autopsy on the day Buddy was killed, although they admit that the sad day was blurred. Robert Cohen, a Bay Street Animal Clinic veterinarian who treated Buddy – and who lost his father to COVID-19 a few weeks ago – told National Geographic that he had asked the NYC Department of Health if he needed Buddy’s body for follow-up research. But by the time the NYCDOH responded by deciding to do an autopsy, Buddy was already cremated. So we don’t know for sure if the coronavirus is what killed Buddy.

“While testing Buddy indicated SARs-CoV-2 infection [the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19], he also had lymphoma, which can cause clinical symptoms similar to those described, and most likely it was the primary cause of his illness and eventually death, “Dr. told MarketWatch. Doug Kratt, President of the American Association of Veterinary Surgeons (AVMA). e-mail.

“We need to know much more about this virus and this disease,” he continued. “Research is underway to determine the full impact of SARS-CoV-2 on how virus infection can affect animals, which animals are susceptible and why (or why not).”

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Although this case raises many questions about coronavirus in animals, here is what we know. On the positive 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 less than 25 confirmed cases of pets worldwide – but it should be noted that extensive testing of pets has not been performed.

The CDC still does not recommend routine pet testing, largely because there is no evidence that pets spread the virus to humans and also because there are many health problems that could cause COVID-19-like symptoms in pets. pets. “Because these additional conditions are much more common than SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals, routine testing of domestic animals for SARS-CoV-2 is currently not recommended by veterinary infectious disease specialists, animal health officials or public health veterinarians. , “Dr. Kratt said. “Testing may be appropriate in certain situations, after a complete evaluation of the pet by a veterinarian, to rule out other causes of the disease.”

Thus, it remains unclear how many domestic animals have been tested in the United States or how many coronaviruses may have.

“We do not want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets, “or to be in a hurry to test them en masse. CDC official Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh. “There is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of this disease to humans.” Pets that get sick usually have mild symptoms and usually recover.

However, Buddy’s fatal case raises questions about whether more animals should be tested in advance, or whether animals with baseline conditions could be more vulnerable to the virus in the same way that many people with pre-existing health problems have been more severely affected by COVID. 19. “Certainly, it is likely that the baseline condition could weaken the dog’s natural defenses against many things,” one South Carolina veteran told National Geographic.

The FDA and CDC recommend that people practice social distancing with their pets, such as keeping dogs on a leash and six feet away from dogs and people who are not from their household. Anyone with coronavirus illness should, if possible, isolate themselves from their pets, as there is evidence that pets can catch the virus from humans. And the UK’s veterinary office has warned pet owners not to stop kissing their pets, sharing food with them or sharing beds with them.

Click here for more information on what we know so far about pets and coronavirus, as well as answers to many questions about caring for pets during a pandemic.

For more information, see the following resources:

American Veterinary Medical Association: avma.org

Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus

More information on MarketWatch coronavirus coverage here.


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