Georgia Dog Tests Positive for Virus That Causes COVID-19

A pet dog in Georgia has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, meaning it is believed to be the second dog in the U.S. to contract the disease, state officials said.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said in a press release that it had confirmed the mixed breed dog had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other expert bodies.

The 6-year-old dog developed a neurological illness that "progressed rapidly" over two days, the Georgia Department of Public Health said, adding that the pet had to be put down as a result of its condition.

According to the George public health department, the neurological illness that killed the dog was caused by another health condition, and not the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dog vaccinated at pet drive-through California
A vet vaccinates Cohiba the dog as owner assists at a drive-through pet vaccine clinic at in Mission Viejo, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

"Out of an abundance of caution, a SARS-CoV-2 test was performed on the dog," the state public health body said. "The presumptive positive result was confirmed by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory."

The owners of the deceased dog have also recently tested positive for COVID-19, although the animal showed no signs of respiratory issues.

"While little is known about SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals, they are not thought to be a source of infection for humans," Georgian health officials added.

They also urged pet owners to take precautions in the event that they tested positive for COVID-19, including having other members of a household care for the pet while they are ill.

"It appears that [COVID-19] can spread from people to animals in some situations, especially after close contact with a person sick with COVID-19," the CDC website warns.

At the start of June, it was reported that a German Shepherd was the first dog to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. Unlike the mixed breed dog in Georgia, the New York dog did show signs of respiratory illness before it was tested.

"One of the dog's owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog showing signs," the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement at the time. "A second dog in the household has shown no signs of illness; however, antibodies were also identified in that dog, suggesting exposure."

The reported case of a dog catching SARS-CoV-2 in Georgia comes as the state has reported a spike in new novel coronavirus cases over the last week in the wake of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

The Associated Press reported that the state recorded almost 2,800 new cases of the disease on Friday, down slightly from 3,472 fresh confirmed cases recorded the day before. At the start of this month, the state was reporting less than 1,000 new cases a day.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp went on a statewide "Wear a Mask" tour this week urging locals to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

"You want some college football this fall and other sports then wear your mask these next few weeks," Kemp said earlier this week. "Let's flatten the curve and drive the numbers down."

At the time of writing, Georgia's Department of Public Health has recorded a total of 90,493 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, along with more than 2,800 related deaths.