After the first positive test for a coronavirus in a dog, many people wonder how the coronavirus affects cats and dogs. Today we talk about the coronavirus in pets.
The Government of Hong Kong notified on February 28 the detection, in a dog, of a slightly positive of the new coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. This raised the alarm about the possible contagion of some diseases from humans to pets. In the face of this coronavirus epidemic, we ask ourselves, how does the coronavirus affect cats and dogs?
According to veterinarians, there are several animal diseases linked to the coronavirus. These viruses are the feline coronavirus. It is very frequent, very contagious, and usually appears as a mild digestive condition. It affects 25% of domestic cats and 75% of communities. Sometimes their mutations can complicate prognoses.
What to do if my pet has been infected
The COVID-19 scenario is new to veterinary clinics. But there is no evidence that humans can pass this new strain of coronavirus on to their pets. In any case, if your pet becomes ill after being in contact with a person sick with coronavirus, what can you do?
First, call the veterinary clinic to report the situation. But don’t bring the animal to the clinic until you speak to its staff. We do not yet know if animals can be infected with this new coronavirus. Although there is currently no evidence. Besides, the President of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE) has pointed out that “viruses are usually comfortable with a species. That is why it is not common for them to jump”.
For this reason, alerts were raised when the case of a dog in Taiwan that had found remains of SARS-2 in the muzzle after its owner became ill became known. Samples were collected to analyze COVID-19, but the result was weak. The dog did not have any relevant symptoms.
According to the President of the SEE, Pere Godoy, that they have found genes for the new coronavirus in the mouth and nose does not imply that the dog is infected at the cellular level. It is the same that could happen with people reinfected with COVID-19. They can test positive but, in reality, be free of virus replication in your cells.
What to do with animals in areas with coronaviruses
The College of Veterinarians of Madrid has also stated that there is no data or evidence to date that dogs and cats can become infected with the coronavirus. Neither other pets.
Nor do we have to vaccinate our dogs against canine coronavirus. This vaccine only protects against enteric coronavirus infection, not against respiratory infections. Unfortunately, there are currently no vaccines available on the market for respiratory coronavirus infection for dogs, nor humans.
What is common is the spread of other coronaviruses between animals. but the use of masks in animals is not indicated. Another issue is that the coronavirus or other different viruses, jump from a wild or domestic animal to humans. This is known as a zoonosis and is what appears to have happened in Wuhan.
Zoonosis, a worldwide problem
There have been many diseases throughout history that have had their origin in animals in common: rabies, bird flu, hemorrhagic fevers ... And all of them have ended up being suffered by humans. It has not yet been possible to confirm which species is the one that caused the first contagion in China. although the pangolin has been ruled out.
On the other hand, this type of coronavirus has been found to have many similarities to those of bats. However, there are dozens of species that pose a risk of zoonosis in all corners of the world. In fact, in the zoonotic map of the world published in 2016, the Amazon region, areas of the central European interior and central China stood out. Among mammals, rodents are the ones with the highest number of zoonotic hosts. However, primates and other carnivorous mammals can also transmit a wide variety of diseases.
How does Zoonosis work?
But to better understand how zoonosis works?. We must explain that viruses are not interested in the host dying. Otherwise, it could not continue multiplying. For this reason, the species where a disease arises become reservoirs. From where a new disease could re-emerge or be generated that passes to humans. Thus, the bat is a reservoir of coronavirus. But it is not one of the species with the highest zoonotic risk. In any case, the jump from animal to human can pose a challenge to the operability of a virus that is comfortable in the cells of another animal. Also, the jump could make him somewhat more vulnerable.
However, viruses can adapt to the environment in which they are, and may have explosive transmission, such as influenza. What’s more, the famous variant influenza AH1N1, which ended in a pandemic, was originally the swine flu that jumped into humans like the seasonal flu. Something similar, although much less common, happened with bird flu. Which at one point jumped from birds to humans to stay.
Except for the analogies with the flu, the new strain of coronavirus, also derived from animals, appears to be able to coexist with human cells. We must not lose hope that the coronavirus will finally be eradicated. You just have to be patient and take extreme precautions until then.