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SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Dogs and Cats: Facts and Speculations

By Nicola Decaro, Andrea Balboni, Luigi Bertolotti, Piera Anna Martino, Maurizio Mazzei, Francesco Mira, Ugo Pagnini

Category Journal Articles

The recent pandemic caused by the novel human coronavirus (CoV), currently referred to
as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is responsible
for COronaVIrus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), is leading to alarmism among pet owners as a
consequence of few case reports of SARS-CoV-2 infection in dogs and cats. COVID-19 emerged
in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in humans exposed to wildlife at the
Huanan seafood wholesale market, the largest seafood market in central China. This is a typical
Asian wet market, where different species of farm and wild animals are commonly sold dead and
live. The blood and other body fluids originating from these animals represent an exceptional
source for the spillover of animal viruses (1).
SARS-CoV-2 recognizes a probable zoonotic origin, since the virus likely descends from a
bat betacoronavirus, strictly related to the one responsible for the 2002–2003 SARS epidemic
(SARS-CoV), which was transmitted to humans directly or through previous adaptation to a not
yet identified intermediate host (1, 2). After this adaptation to the new host, the virus was able to
spread to the human population through a human-to-human transmission, without any further
role of animals in the epidemiological chain. However, pets have been alternatively brought into
play as a possible source of infection for humans, intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2 transmission
to humans or hosts of animal CoVs that may cross-protect humans against the highly pathogenic
CoV. The aim of this opinion article is to define the role of dogs and cats in the SARS-CoV-2
epidemiology in the light of current knowledge.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2021
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 8
Pages 4
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.619207
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Cats
  3. Covid-19
  4. Dogs
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access