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Louisiana dog tests positive for coronavirus, agency says

The agriculture department refused to provide details about the dog or where its owner lives, citing federal health privacy laws.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s agriculture department said a dog in the state has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

It's the state’s first confirmed infection in an animal and was determined through a nasal swab test. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain there have been 24 other cases of COVID-19 reported in animals across the country since April.

Strain says no evidence suggests that pets play a significant role in helping to spread the virus. He urged people not to abandon their pets because of worry.

"Initially, it was believed pets could not get the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control is now learning that animals can be infected," Strain said. "It appears that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact."

Strain said the dog did not show any symptoms of the virus and was taken to the veterinarian for an unrelated illness.

He added that viruses can transfer to domesticated animals from their owners when they are touched or if the animal licks a contaminated surface or skin. 

"It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended," Strain said. "If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, allow a family member or close friend to care for your pets."

Strain said that pets, like people, should also be socially distanced from other animals and humans when out on a walk. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a small number of pets have been reported with coronavirus infections.

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