First U.S. Dog to Test Positive for COVID-19 Dies



The first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the United States passed away on July 11, according to an exclusive news report from National Geographic. Buddy, a seven-year-old German Shepherd from Staten Island, N.Y., was confirmed to have the virus in May and also suffered from lymphoma.

The canine likely caught the virus from his owner, Robert Mahoney. He started showing symptoms in April as he began struggling to breathe and had thick mucus in his nose. He also exhibited weight loss and lethargy. On the day he was euthanized, he was vomiting blood. 

It’s unclear whether Buddy’s death was from the virus or lymphoma—the cancer was only diagnosed when additional bloodwork was performed on the day he died. It’s unclear whether pre-existing conditions like cancer can increase coronavirus complications in dogs the way they do for humans.

The Mahoney family felt that public health officials weren’t that interested in learning from Buddy’s illness or his death. They had limited conversations with the New York City Health Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had already cremated Buddy by the time the Department of Health asked for a necropsy.

At least 24 animals have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S., according to data compiled by the USDA. The animals include lions, tigers, dogs and cats. The Mahoneys’ other dog, a German Shepherd puppy named Duke, tested negative for the virus, but had antibodies, indicating that he had been infected at some point.

There is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Organization for Animal Health. However, studying animals that have been infected and learning about how the disease impacts them could be helpful for learning more about the virus and how to keep pets safe.


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