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Remember the first dog to get coronavirus? He was never infected, USDA says

USDA confirmed that Winston the pug was never infected with COVID-19

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Buddy the dog peers from a vehicle before the start of a movie at a drive in cinema in Snagov, Romania, Monday, June 1, 2020. Romania further loosened the measures imposed during a nationwide lockdown in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 infections, with museums, open air restaurants, cinemas and beaches opening for public on Monday.

Buddy the dog peers from a vehicle before the start of a movie at a drive in cinema in Snagov, Romania, Monday, June 1, 2020. Romania further loosened the measures imposed during a nationwide lockdown in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 infections, with museums, open air restaurants, cinemas and beaches opening for public on Monday.

AP

Winston — the first dog believed to be diagnosed with coronavirus — never had the virus after all, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What’s going on:

  • The USDA released a statement that confirmed the first official case of the coronavirus in dogs came from a German shepherd in New York. The dog showed signs of a respiratory illness two days after the dog’s owner experienced symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The USDA tested Winston for an infection. But the organization could not verify that he had COVID-19.
  • The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratoriesrepresentative Lyndsay Cole told USA Today the lab could never find an infection.
  • Cole said: “The weak detection ... from the original oral swab may be the result of contamination from the COVID-19 positive household.”

What happened with Winston?

The North Carolina pug was believed to be the first dog to receive a COVID-19 diagnosis in the United States, as I reported for the Deseret News. The dog did not show any major symptoms of the virus at the time.

Heather McLean, a hospital pediatrician and vice chairwoman and associate professor at Duke University, and her family, said her father heard the dog cough a lot. The family thought these were unusual symptoms for the dog, according to USA Today.

She told WRAL-TV: “Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way. So it almost seems like he was gagging, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual.”