A pet dog in North Carolina has tested positive for coronavirus. The pug named Winston is believed to be the first canine case in the U.S.

Pug in North Carolina Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Possibly First U.S. Dog


A pet dog in North Carolina has tested positive for coronavirus, according to officials. The pug named Winston is believed to be the first canine case in the United States.


The Backstory 

It all started with Winston’s owners, the McLean family. Three members — a mother, father, and son — reportedly contracted COVID-19 last month. The father, Sam McLean, is an emergency room doctor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (who had treated COVID-19 patients) and was the first family member to get sick.  

On April 1, the family joined a study conducted by Duke. The study — Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI) — examines how the body responds to infection in order to develop treatments or vaccines. As part of the study, family members underwent nasal swabs and gave blood samples. The mother, Heather McLean, told reporters at their local news station, WRAL-TV, that officials also tested their two dogs and cat.

Winston tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. Dr. Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the Duke study, said the amount of virus detected was low.

The McLean’s other pets tested negative.

Winston “licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus),” said McLean’s son, Ben.



Winston Showed Some Symptoms

The family says they noticed little Winston was coughing and sneezing. He also refused to eat his breakfast one morning, which is unusual. Here is the family’s interview with WRAL-TV:

As shown in the news clip above, the family confirms Winston is doing well and no longer showing any symptoms. 


Winston Isn’t The First U.S. Animal To Test Positive

On April 22 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced two pet cats with SAR-CoV-2. Earlier in the month, they also reported on tigers and lions at The Bronx Zoo in New York had tested positive. A 4-year-old tiger named Nadia, and six other tigers and lions had the virus.

Additionally, back in February and March, Hong Kong health officials announced a Pomeranian and German Shepard had tested positive for the virus.


Officials Still Say Pet Parents Shouldn’t Worry Or Fear Family Pets

According to the CDC, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.” 


We will share more details as they become available.