Details have started to emerge in local media outlets about North Carolina’s first COVID-positive dog, one of the four known COVID dogs that did not survive. Last week, TCR reported exclusively that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s One Health Office, which is part of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, has quietly been working to produce a paper that will reveal long-awaited details of its investigations into the four dogs (and one cat) known to have died while infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to The Sandhills Sentinel, the dog that was the focus of an August 11 press announcement was an eight-year-old male Newfoundland, “River,” that lived in a housing development in Seven Lakes, North Carolina, the southwestern pocket the state. The Sentinel reports that River’s owner, whose name was not revealed in the report, observed that the dog seemed tired at first, but the symptoms progressed to labored breathing. According to the report, the owner brought him to her veterinarian who referred her to NC State Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh. River’s clinical symptoms were “respiratory distress”, labored breathing, and fever. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed a preliminary COVID-19 test result. River died several hours after being admitted to NC State Veterinary Hospital. “His heart was still beating, but his lungs had stopped functioning,” River’s owner is quoted as saying in the report. According to the report, River was not known to have any underlying health conditions before he passed, and was in good health.
River’s owner is also quoted in The Sentinel report as saying that she suspects that it was the dog’s likeability and popularity with strangers, including children, that facilitated the transmission of the virus from one of the many admirers to the dog.
As of September 1, 45 animals (5 mink, 4 tigers, 3 lions, 17 cats, and 16 dogs) have been confirmed as positive for the virus in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. It’s worth pointing out, however, that these are just the animals we know about, and about half of dogs and cats are asymptomatic, according to the CDC’s data about the confirmed cases.
CDC One Health Director Casey Barton Behravesh would not confirm or deny if the case in North Carolina involving “River” was one of her team’s two “ongoing” investigations that would need to conclude before the paper about investigations into all five “severe outcomes” cases could be published. Dr. Barton Behravesh will be presenting “One Health News from CDC” tomorrow afternoon during the group’s monthly teleconference that is open to all members of the public.