A North Carolina pug tested positive for coronavirus, possibly the first dog in the U.S.

Joshua Bote, USA TODAY

Note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the first case of coronavirus in a dog — a German shepherd in New York — June 2. The USDA tested Winston "but were unable to verify infection," agency representative Lyndsay Cole told USA TODAY.

After several members of a North Carolina family tested positive for the new coronavirus, they found out their pet pug tested positive, too, possibly the first dog in the United States to be diagnosed with the virus.

But owner Heather McLean, a hospital pediatrician and vice chair and associate professor at Duke University, hopes that it doesn’t spark too much concern over household pets contracting and spreading the virus.

The McLeans discovered Friday that their pug, Winston, tested positive for COVID-19. He didn’t display any severe symptoms before they found out, said McLean’s 17-year-old daughter, Sydney.

Two things did stand out to the family, though: “My dad heard him cough a lot,” she said. “He didn’t eat his breakfast one morning and it’s weird because he’s a pug, but who knows?”

Heather and her husband, Sam, who works as a researcher and emergency physician at UNC-Chapel Hill, started developing mild symptoms in mid-March. She attributed her own symptoms — scratchy throat and mild headache among them — to allergies, but they worsened for a bit.

“We didn’t do a good job of distancing ourselves,” she told USA TODAY. “We’re having college and high school in our house too, and we realized our son also had mild symptoms. Our daughter didn't have any symptoms.”

The family eventually recovered and enrolled in a study led by Dr. Chris Woods, a virologist and one of Heather's colleagues at Duke.

Winston the pug gets tested for coronavirus while Sydney McLean, 17, holds her.

Every week since the beginning of April, a team of researchers has come to their house to perform blood tests and nasal swabs for the family.

"On the first day," Heather explained, "they nasal swabbed all the pets — the two dogs and the cat.”

Woods told NBC News that Winston may be the first dog nationwide to have a confirmed case of the virus. Fortunately, the other two creatures tested negative. 

Winston has since fully recovered and “has been acting like himself." 

“He’s a very sweet animal; we’re very lucky to have him quarantined with us,” said Heather.

She hopes that her family’s bout of coronavirus has a small silver lining — both in learning how coronavirus manifests in pets, and in contributing to further research on how coronavirus can be treated in humans.

And for anyone concerned about their pets contracting coronavirus, both Sydney and Heather advise not worrying too much about them.

“We’re not seeing an epidemic of household pets or them transmitting it to other humans and animals—we just happened to detect it in our dog,” Heather said..

“Try not to worry too much about your pets,” Sydney added. “There’s too much to worry about.”

Multiple veterinary experts, including representatives from the American Veterinary Medical Association, have previously said that there is no evidence yet that the coronavirus can spread from an infected pet to a human.

Contributing: Ian Richardson, USA TODAY Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pug tests positive for coronavirus, possibly the first dog in the U.S.