USDA: Winston the pug was not infected with COVID-19, despite positive test

Despite saying a pug tested positive for coronavirus, the United States Department of Agriculture said the dog named Winston did not have a COVID-19 infection.

Officials at the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory said that while the dog tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it was a weak detection from an oral sample.

"It did not meet the case definition for a positive, and all other testing was negative," Lyndsay Cole, a spokesperson for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service told WRAL.

She also said that no virus was isolated and there was no evidence of Winston having an immune response.

Winston’s owners, Heather McLean, her husband, both of whom are doctors, tested positive for coronavirus in March. Their son also had the virus.

They were told of their pet’s positive swab in April.

Now the new information has the family wondering.

"Did he have the infection or did he just have the virus in his mouth," McLean asked, according to WRAL.

McLean theorizes he could have tested positive after coming in contact with a surface or family member who had the virus.

Researchers with Duke University's Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection, or MESSI, said they will now collect blood samples from animals to see if they have antibodies to the virus, WRAL reported.

Elsewhere, a tiger, lion and two pet cats have been confirmed to have coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

Tuesday the USDA said a German shepherd in New York had a confirmed positive test result, becoming the first pet dog in the U.S. to be confirmed as infected by the coronavirus. The dog had signs of respiratory illness that prompted testing, the Times reported. The tests involved both swabs and blood samples. The dog had coronavirus antibodies and is expected to recover.

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