Covid-19 response

Did the North Carolina Pug really have Covid-19?

  • 1.  Did the North Carolina Pug really have Covid-19?

    Posted 05-29-2020 07:26
    Edited by Tim Atkinson 05-29-2020 07:26

    Update for House of Delegates: COVID-19: Final Results of NVSL Testing for NC Pug

    As you may recall, on April 28, multiple media outlets reported that a pet Pug in North Carolina had positive results of a quantitative PCR (aPCR) test for SARS-CoV-2. Results of tests performed to confirm the presumptive positive result were shared today by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).

    The NVSL was unable to verify infection in the Pug. No virus was isolated and there was no evidence of an immune response based on a virus neutralization test.

    The Pug belongs to a family whose members were tested for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a voluntary Duke University research study of COVID-19 positive households in North Carolina. Media reports also indicated family members recalled the Pug had exhibited mild and transient clinical signs of disease, including coughing and an episode of not wanting to eat a meal. It appears the Pug was not evaluated by a veterinarian at that time. Based on the results available from the NVSL, it appears the weak detection of viral RNA by PCR may be the result of contamination from the COVID-19 positive household.

    Confirmatory testing at the NVSL included polymerase chain reaction (per CDC protocol for SARS-CoV-2 PCR), efforts to sequence, and virus isolation for the original swab sample collected April 1 (oral from the Pug), and PCR and virus isolation on swab samples obtained April 30 (oral and rectal swabs) from all animals (the Pug, another dog, and a cat) in the household. NVSL also conducted virus neutralization for serum samples collected on April 30 from the Pug and May 13 from the other dog and cat in the household.

    Glad we can finally answer your questions about this Pug!

    This case serves as a good reminder of the importance of following a logical approach to diagnosis in cases of suspected SARS-CoV-2 in animals. A necessary part of the diagnostic workup is consultation with the state public health veterinarian or designated state animal health official. The AVMA has created a decision tree to assist.

    AVMA's COVID-19 resource center provides more information about testing for SARS-CoV-2 in animals, along with a handout to assist with client communication regarding testing. Veterinary team members also can view a free webinar on AVMA Axon that delves into the guidance for testing animals for SARS-CoV-2.

    Have a good evening,

    Gail C. Golab, PhD, DVM, MANZCVS, DACAW
    Chief Veterinary Officer
    American Veterinary Medical Association
    o: (847) 285-6618
    c: (630) 336-0062