Connecticut canine assessments optimistic for COVID-19

Zeinab Helal micropipette samples are collected at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. Recently, the CVMDL discovered that a three-month-old dog had developed 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, said Guillermo R. Risatti, UConn professor and director of diagnostic testing services at Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

CVMDL has monitored COVID-19 in both dogs and cats as part of national efforts by the U.S. 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 US on the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to report their results.

CVMDL has received animals for post mortem examinations called autopsy throughout the pandemic, Risatti said. In this case, an autopsy of a three-month-old dog who suddenly died with no COVID-19 symptoms was the first to detect COVID-19.

“We don’t know what these results mean. We are investigating this case, ”said Risatti in an email. “We don’t know if more animals will test positive. [It is] difficult to predict. A relatively small number of dogs and cats have tested positive in the United States. ”

According to UConn Today, CVMDL tested nearly 200 samples with only one positive COVID-19 test. Risatti said they don’t know much information about the specific dog that was showing signs of COVID-19.

“This was one of the many animals that come to the pathology service almost every day,” said Risatti. “This animal happened to be positive.”

“We’d like to know better what role, if any, pets play in the spread of the disease.”

Guillermo R. Risatti, director of diagnostic testing services at the Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

While not enough statistically, it opens the door for further research. According to Risatti, CVMDL plans to continue its surveillance methods for dogs and cats.

“We would like to know better what role pets play in the spread of the disease,” Risatti said in an email.

Risatti said pet owners shouldn’t be unduly concerned about spreading COVID-19 to their animals. According to the CDC website, only a small number of pets worldwide are infected with COVID-19, mainly after close contact with people who test positive for the virus.

The CDC advises pet owners to treat their pets like other human members. To keep them safe, owners should avoid their pets interacting with people outside of 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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