USDA reports 24 animals have confirmed cases of COVID-19; vets weigh in on the threat

National Coronavirus Coverage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Despite a handful of pets testing positive for COVID-19 across some areas of the state, veterinarians say the risk in Tennessee remains fairly low. 

The USDA confirms 24 animals across the U.S. have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Out of those 24, 22 are house pets. The first dog to test positive for the virus in the country after three months of battling the virus. 

Veterinary Internist Dr. Julie Stegeman notes these cases are minimal when compared to the outbreak in humans. She also said it’s hard to know if COVID-19 caused the 7-year-old German Shepard’s death. He also had lymphoma. 

“So if you have concurrent illness that’s making you die, and then you also happen to have COVID, maybe the COVID helped it pass more quickly, but it probably wasn’t the sole cause of death,” said Dr. Stageman with Nashville Veterinary Specialists.  

The virus isn’t stopping dog owners from enjoying the great outdoors with their four-legged friends. Dog owner Becca Lane says she won’t worry about socializing her dog unless the virus actually hits Tennessee pets.  

“You’re out here, fresh air outside,” Land said. “I definitely feel more comfortable out here than I would in a crowded environment.”  

 Buddy’s owner did have COVID-19 before Buddy got sick. According to the CDC, humans can pass the virus onto animals. They say if you catch COVID-19 you should try to find someone else to take care of your pets and avoid direct contact.  

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