In March of 2020, as COVID-19 exploded across the country, teams of researchers fanned out to visit patients throughout North Carolina’s piedmont. They carried syringes and swabs. They entered million-dollar homes and dilapidated trailers. Like so many of their colleagues, these scientists were pivoting their research to address what had just been declared a pandemic. But among their equipment, nestled between the boxes of gloves and masks, was something critical to their work: filet mignon and bacon flavored Pup-Peroni treats. They were testing dogs and cats to determine whether domestic animals might be a vector for transmission, or whether we humans might pose a threat to our beloved pets.
Supported by the National Geographic COVID-19 Emergency Fund, I documented, via photographs and text, the efforts of Duke University's Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection as they visited active and recovering patients at their homes.
Dr. Liz Petzold pets a cat belonging to Peggy Smith, an active coronavirus patient, after testing the animal for coronavirus via an oral swab on September 16, 2020 in Henderson, North Carolina.