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Pug belonging to family in Duke study tests positive for coronavirus

Make sure your furry friends are social distancing as well. 

Winston, a pug belonging to a Chapel Hill family participating in a Duke research study, tested positive for COVID-19. He may be the first dog in the United States to test positive.

The family was participating in the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI) at the School of Medicine. MESSI’s goal is to determine how bodies respond to various infections, so that they can create biomarkers to facilitate better treatment and prevention of diseases. Its focus has shifted during the pandemic to focus on people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or who may have been exposed to someone with it.

“To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog,” Chris Woods, principal investigator of MESSI and a professor of medicine and global health, told CBS News

Three members of Winston’s family, the McLeans, tested positive for the virus. The study required them to undergo weekly testing via nasal swabs and collection of blood samples.

Heather McLean is an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke. Her husband, Samuel, is research vice chair in the department of anesthesiology and an attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They also have two children, Ben and Sydney.

The McLean parents and their son tested positive for the coronavirus. Sydney was the only family member to test negative. Samuel was the first of the McLeans to become sick and had been treating COVID-19 patients at the hospital, according to CNN

In addition to Winston, the McLeans have another pug, a cat and a lizard. While all furry pets were tested for the virus, only Winston’s test came back positive.

Heather McLean told WBTV News that they have all recovered, including Winston, and things seem “very back to normal.”

Woods and Heather McLean did not respond to requests for an interview.


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