Connecticut dog tests positive for COVID-19

Student working in the CVMDL on campus.
In the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, Zeinab Helal micropipettes samples. Recently, the CVMDL has found that a three-month-old dog was detected to have COVID-19 post-mortem. Photo courtesy of UConn Today

The first reported detection of the COVID-19 virus in a dog in Connecticut has been confirmed, Guillermo R. Risatti, UConn professor and head of the Diagnostic Testing Service at Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, said.  

CVMDL has been conducting surveillance for COVID-19 in both dogs and cats as part of a national effort led by the United States Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are one of 38 laboratories in the United States in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network reporting their results. 

CVMDL has been receiving animals for post-mortem examinations, called necropsy, throughout the pandemic, Risatti said. In this case, the necropsy of a three-month-old dog that suddenly died without COVID-19 symptoms was the first to show detections of COVID-19. 

“We do not know what these findings mean. We are investigating this case,” Risatti said in an email. “We do not know if more animals will test positive. [It is] difficult to predict. A relatively low number of dogs and cats have tested positive in the U.S.” 

According to UConn Today, CVMDL has tested close to 200 samples with only one positive COVID-19 test. Risatti said they do not know a lot of information about the specific dog that showed signs of COVID-19. 

“This was one of the many animals that comes almost on a daily basis to the pathology service,” Risatti said. “This animal happened to be positive.” 

“We would like to know better about the role of domestic animals, if any, in the spread of the disease.”

Guillermo R. Risatti, Head of the Diagnostic Testing Service at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory

Although it is statistically insufficient, it opens the door for more research. Risatti said CVMDL plans to continue its surveillance methods on dogs and cats. 

“We would like to know better about the role of domestic animals, if any, in the spread of the disease,” Risatti said in an email. 

Risatti said pet owners should not be overly worried about transmitting COVID-19 to their animals. According to the CDC website, only a small number of pets worldwide have been reported to be infected with COVID-19, mainly after close contact with people who have tested positive for the virus. 

The CDC advises pet owners to treat their pets like other human members. To keep them safe, owners should avoid having their pets interact with people outside their household. If someone in the household tests positive for COVID-19, the person should be isolated from everyone in their household, including pets.  

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