By Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT
Senior Consulting Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology
Coronavirus is a type of virus consisting of numerous strains that have been seen in animals including dogs, cats, cattle and chickens. These strains can cause gastrointestinal or respiratory illness, including Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) in cats. Vaccinations have been used to prevent the common companion animal strains for decades.
Coronaviruses have zoonotic potential, meaning they can spread from animals to humans, but are not commonly spread from human to human. With the new 2019-nCoV virus, the original source is still unknown and the ability for this virus to spread from humans to animals has not yet been shown; however, information regarding this outbreak is continuing to evolve. According to the CDC, at this point, there is no evidence to suggest animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading or contracting this infection, including those from China. While this virus seems to have originated from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person but at this time, there is no indication that animals or pets in the United States would be a concern as a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
If you or someone you know is ill and are concerned that it may be due to 2019-nCoV, the CDC recommends that you do not handle pets or other animals while sick. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with 2019-nCoV, several types of coronaviruses can cause illness in animals and spread between animals and people. Until more information becomes available, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with animals if you are potentially ill with 2019 n-CoV and wearing a facemask if you must be around animals or care for a pet.
For the most up to date information regarding coronavirus, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html or the World Health Organization’s website: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus as new information is frequently released.