WASHINGTON (AFP) – The first dog to die from a coronavirus test in the United States has died, National Geographic magazine reported fighting symptoms that may be familiar to many people suffering from the virus.
A seven-year-old German Shepherd friend fell ill in April, about the same time his owner Robert Mahoney recovered from COVID-19, this week’s magazine reported.
Buddy seemed to have a stuffy nose and was having difficulty breathing, and his condition only got worse in the following weeks and months.
New York-based Mahoney and his wife Allison finally euthanized the dog on July 11 after Buddy began vomiting blood clots, urinating with blood and unable to walk.
However, the family told National Geographic that it was difficult for them to confirm the suspicion that Buddy was infected with SARS-CoV-2.
“No doubt I thought (buddy) was positive,” Mahoney said, but many of the veterinarians in their area were shut down because of the pandemic.
Some of them were skeptical of pets that were infected with the virus in general. But most of the test equipment was still preserved for humans.
The clinic was finally able to confirm that Buddy is positive and found that the family’s 10-month-old puppy, who was never sick, had antibodies to the virus.
Fellow veterinarians, who later learned that the dog was likely to have lymphoma as well, raised the question of whether animals, like people with existing conditions, could also be more susceptible to serious disease from the new coronavirus.
Neither public health officials nor veterinarians were able to offer much information to the family, they told National Geographic because there was not enough data on the animal virus and the infection turned out to be rare.
“We had no knowledge or experience of the scientific basis for COVID in dogs,” Robert Cohen, a veterinarian who performed the Buddy test, told the magazine.
And it seemed to them that neither the city nor the federal health authorities were very interested in learning from the Buddy case. By the time they decided to get an autopsy, Buddy was already cremated.
The official word from the World Health Organization is that pets are unlikely to transmit the virus to their owners often.
But Shelley Rankin, a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania, said more research is needed.
“If we tell the world that the prevalence of (animal cases) is low, then we have to look at a large number of animals,” she said.
According to National Geographic, twelve dogs and 10 cats in the United States tested positive for coronavirus.
The Maonians say they want Buddy’s story to be heard.
“(He was) a good little pumpkin. I just wish we had him longer,” Allison Mahoney said.