We are in the middle of an explosion of news about the coronavirus. So, you may be wondering: what is it? How does it relate to canine coronavirus? Where does it come from? And above all: Is my pet at risk?
While there are still many questions surrounding the recent outbreak, we hope this article can calm some of your fears.
1. What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses (CoV) make up a family of approximately 40 viruses that are named after the crown-shaped shell structure.. In general, these viruses infect mammals in a specific species way. So specific strains of coronaviruses are known, which infect cats, rabbits, ferrets, cows, turkeys and pigs.
Among these, it is known that three viral types can infect dogs, they are called canine coronaviruses. The “CC” in their names means “canine coronavirus”: CCoV I, CCoV II and CRCoV (canine respiratory coronavirus).
In humans, members of this virus family cause the common cold, an estimated 15 percent of the flu is caused by coronaviruses. Other viral types cause more serious diseases such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). The causative virus of the Wuhan outbreak was provisionally called “new”, 2019-nCoV.
The new coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been found before in humans.
2. Can people and pets transmit their coronaviruses to each other?
Although dogs, cats and humans can get viruses that belong to the family Coronaviridae, infections, in general, are “species specific”, which means that infection between species is rare.
However, it is pertinent to note that viruses are well known for their ability to mutate. Normally, viral mutants maintain their species specificity. This is the reason why, being so long the presence of viruses on the planet, they have not killed the human species.
Very eventually, it happens that a mutation allows the virus interspecies infection. For now, experts are not expressly concerned that coronavirus infection is transmitted among humans, dogs and cats.
From the analysis of changes induced by mutations in virus sequences, experts have shown that coronaviruses MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV and still 2019-nCoV, derive from bat virus.
3. How serious is canine virus infection?
Three types of canine coronaviruses are known. Two of them, which make up group I, cause diarrhea and are very similar to each other, are CCoV I and II. Infection with these two viral types is mild and often goes unnoticed.
The first report on CCoV infection appeared in 1974, when he was isolated from dogs with acute enteritis in a canine military unit in Germany.
In the year 2003, a third canine coronavirus, CRCoV, which makes up group II was reportedIt causes respiratory problems and can be a serious illness. The infection causes pneumonia, and can be fatal. It has a high incidence in dogs in overcrowded conditions.
Outbreaks caused by a highly virulent and pantropic CRCoV have been reported, which means that it affects many organs. In addition, CRCoV, together with other viruses from different families, causes respiratory infections that are known as the “kennel cough complex.”
4. How frequent is canine coronavirus infection?
Various serological and virological studies show that CCoV is widespread in the canine population. Particularly, the virus is highly prevalent in kennels and animal shelters.
Enteric infection by CCoV is characterized by high morbidity (proportion of sick individuals) and low mortality. The virus is eliminated at high concentrations in saliva and feces and is transmitted by the fecal-oral route.
In the case of group II, US reports have estimated that more than 50% of the dogs tested have antibodies against CRCoV, indicating that they were exposed to the virus earlier in their lives.
5. Do you need to worry about canine coronavirus?
No. In fact, there is a vaccine available against group I canine coronavirus, but most veterinarians follow the directions of the World Association of Small Animal Veterinarians (WSAVA), which does not recommend it for dogs because the infection is very mild .
There is no specific treatment for infections caused by pantropic CRCoV. Management should emphasize supportive treatment to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. Although rarely indicated, broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents can be administered to treat secondary bacterial infections.
To date, there are no vaccines against pantropic CRCoV. It was shown that inactivated vaccines currently used against enteric CCoV are ineffective. The best prevention is to vaccinate your dog against other respiratory infections (parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, distemper, and Bordetella bronchiseptica) to prevent coinfection. In addition, dogs with kennel cough should be isolated until symptoms disappear.