QUEENSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — A dog in North Carolina appears to be the first dog in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus, leading officials to caution humans with COVID-19 to distance themselves from their pets if possible.

CBS News reports the dog named Winston is apparently the first pooch to test positive for the virus. The test was done as part of a study by Duke University.

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Earlier this month, a tiger at a New York zoo also tested positive for the coronavirus, CBS New York reported.

More research is needed, though, to determine how animals are affected by COVID-19 and if they may play a role in spreading the virus.

“We may learn more and what we say in a couple of weeks may be different in what we said right now,” Dr. Marianne Bailey with Queenstown Veterinary Hospital told WJZ Tuesday in the wake of the report.

Until more is known about the transmission of the virus between pets and humans, Bailey and the CDC say pet owners should limit their furry friends’ interactions with other pets and people outside the home, keep cats indoors when possible and avoid dog parks.

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“In the current environment that we’re living in, and the way we’re living, our pets are quarantined at home with us, and it does seem that people can pass coronavirus to their pet,” she said. “We have not seen it pass it to people or pass it to other pets at this point.”

If a pet owner tests positive for the virus, Bailey said they should try to have another person in their home take care of their pet if possible.

Luckily, it seems that when pets do contract the virus, their cases are mild, Bailey said.

And in a challenging time, Bailey said people should continue to love on their furry friends who can be a good support system.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachel Menitoff