RALEIGH, N.C. (News Nation/WNCN) — North Carolina health officials said the state has its first confirmed case of a dog testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said a dog that suddenly began suffering from respiratory distress on Aug. 3 was taken to the N.C. State Veterinary Hospital.
The dog later died, News Nation affiliate WNCN reports.
The dog’s owners informed hospital staff that a member of their family tested positive for COVID-19, but later tested negative.
The N.C. State Veterinary Hospital tested samples from the dog for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Samples were also sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those tests came back positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Steve Marks, the Associate Dean and Director of Veterinary Medical Services at N.C. State, said they’re still looking into it.
“We don’t have a definitive cause of death, but we do have tests that show the coronavirus that has been associated with COVID was present in some of this dog’s tissue,” Marks said.
He stressed they don’t know if coronavirus killed the dog. He said it was a young adult, but wouldn’t disclose the breed or gender.
“There’s a very, very low risk of animals spreading this disease to people. So, we don’t really want people to be in a panic,” he said.
The state’s top veterinarian also said there appears to be little risk of spreading the virus to humans from pets.
“Based on the information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low,” said Dr. Carl Williams, state public health veterinarian.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “a small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States.”
If pet owners are concerned about the health of their dog, they should contact their veterinarian and discuss the dog’s symptoms before bringing them to the veterinarian office.