First dog in US to be infected with coronavirus dies
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Jul 31, 2020, 06:21 pm
The first dog to test positive for the COVID-19 infection in New York, United States, has died, reports the National Geographic magazine. The dog named Buddy, a seven-year-old German shepherd, had been struggling with symptoms that have been most visible among humans since the infection's outbreak. The dog had become sick in April, around the same time as his owner Robert Mahoney had begun making a recovery after testing positive for coronavirus.
According to the magazine, Buddy had a stuffy nose and was experiencing difficulties in breathing since then, after which his condition had begun to worsen in the following weeks. Mahoney and his wife Allison had been contemplating putting their dog to rest in a humane way (euthanize) on July 11 after he began vomiting blood clots and had been unable to walk since he was urinating blood. The family in their statement to National Geographic stated that it took a lot for them to believe that Buddy had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Mahoney said, "Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought (Buddy) was positive,". However, he added that many veterinarians had closed their clinics due to the pandemic while some others remained skeptical about pets contracting COVID-19. He went on to say that a majority of the testing supplies were being conserved for human use.
Finally, Mahoney managed to confirm in a clinic that Buddy was indeed coronavirus positive, while also finding out that their family's 10-month-old puppy had virus antibodies despite not getting sick before. Vets found out that Buddy had also been suffering from lymphoma, which raised the question of whether animals could be more vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, in case they had pre-existing medical conditions.
The family could hardly manage to get much information from either public health officials or veterinarians as there was very little data about the virus infecting animals, they told National Geographic. Robert Cohen, Buddy's vet, told the magazine, "We had zero knowledge or experience with the scientific basis of COVID in dogs,". Furthermore, there was hardly any interest shown from federal health authorities or city officials to learn Buddy's case. Buddy had been cremated by the time a necropsy was decided to be done.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier stated that transmission of the virus from pets to their owners is less likely. However, Shelley Rankin, a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania, told the magazine that more study is necessary to arrive at a conclusion. She said, "If we're telling the world that prevalence (of animal cases) is low, then we have to look at high numbers".
According to National Geographic, a total of 12 dogs and 10 cats in the US have so far tested positive for coronavirus. Speaking to the magazine, the Mahoneys revealed they wanted Buddy's story heard. Allison Mahoney said, "(He was) a good little pumpkin. I just kind of wish we'd had him for longer,".