BBC wrong to say puppies died of Covid-19

27 April 2021
What was claimed

A group of puppies transported more than 100 miles died with Covid-19.

Our verdict

This is wrong. These puppies had canine coronavirus. It is not the same as Covid-19.

The headline of a BBC live blog was wrong to report that a group of puppies died with Covid-19 after being transported more than 100 miles in cramped conditions. These dogs actually had an infection called canine coronavirus, which is not the same as Covid-19. 

Coronaviruses are a group of hundreds of different viruses, most of which affect animals but some also affect humans. The word “coronavirus” has been used as shorthand for SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes Covid-19—but it is a mistake to assume that any mention of a coronavirus is referring to Covid-19.

“Canine coronavirus” most often refers to an intestinal disease affecting dogs, and especially puppies. 

It is possible for dogs to be infected by SARS-CoV-2, but their susceptibility to infection is considered “low” by the World Organisation for Animal Health. Most show no symptoms, or mild symptoms, and there is no evidence to suggest they can transmit the virus to humans or other animals.

The BBC also published an article on the puppies. Shares of the article on Twitter suggest this story initially also made this mistake in its headline, but this has since been corrected.

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