Can Pets Contract Corona Virus (2019-nCoV) from People or Other Animals? What We Know So Far

By Claudia Bensimoun


Image credit:Pixaby


Recently, dogs and cats wearing face masks in China have popped up in the news, causing pet parents to question whether our pets can spread the deadly virus, 2019-nCoV? Health experts have provided answers to the question, and add that the 2019-CoV, in its present form cannot infect animals all over again.

What the experts have to say

According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, Dr.Niels Pedersen, emeritus professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and also an expert on infectious diseases in pets, the answer is no.

“No, you won’t get or give the coronavirus to your family pet. Coronaviruses occur in virtually every species of animal, including humans, and are commonly associated with unapparent or transient intestinal and respiratory infections. They tend to be very species specific and cross-species transmission is uncommon,” via VetMed.UC Davis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also adds that “there is no evidence this coronavirus has “any impact on the health of animals and no particular event has been reported in any species.

At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans,” via WHO.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) also reinstates that pet parents should not worry.

New 2020 study by The American Society for Microbiology

According to a 2020 study by the American Society for Microbiology “previous studies have shown how the SARS virus (SARS-CoV) interacts with animal and human hosts in order to infect them. The mechanics of infection by the Wuhan coronavirus appear to be similar.”

Decade-long structural studies by Fang Li of the University of Minnesota, et al. have shown how the SARS virus (SARS-CoV) interacts with animal and human hosts in order to infect them. The mechanics of infection by the Wuhan coronavirus appear to be similar. These investigators used the knowledge they gleaned from multiple SARS-CoV strains — isolated from different hosts in different years — and angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptors from different animal species to model predictions for the novel Wuhan coronavirus. (Both viruses use ACE2 to gain entry into the cell, but it serves normally as a regulator for heart function,)” via Science Daily.

The study also discusses how a single mutation at a certain genome spot could enhance the Wuhan coronavirus’s ability to bind with a human ACE2.

“Alarmingly, our data predict that a single mutation [at a specific spot in the genome] could significantly enhance [the Wuhan coronavirus’s] ability to bind with human ACE2,” the investigators write. For this reason, Wuhan coronavirus evolution in patients should be closely monitored for the emergence of novel mutations at the 501 position in its genome, and to a lesser extent, the 494 position, in order to predict the possibility of a more serious outbreak than has been seen so far.”

According to a 2020 article published in Newsweek Health, a Chinese scientist claims that pets can catch infection.

 “Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and member of the team China has assembled to confront the new coronavirus, claimed the bug, dubbed 2019-nCoV, can be transmitted from mammal to mammal. She did not say if there had been cases of infected pets,” via Newsweek. Li Lanjuan goes on to add via the China Central Television and a translation via China that “If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets.” For more, visit:

Another 2020 study published goes on to discuss the potential global spread of the new corona virus. The study adds that the most at risks countries include “The most ‘at-risk’ countries or regions worldwide are Thailand (1), Japan (2) and Hong Kong (3). USA is placed 6th on the list, Australia 10th and the UK 17th.” For more on the preliminary risk for the 2019 novel coronavirus spread within and beyond China, visit:

The Good News

According to Science Daily, The Institut Pasteur has sequenced the entire 2019-nCoV genome, becoming the first institution in Europe to sequence the virus since the beginning of the outbreak. According to the study, the virus was sequenced at the Institut Pasteur’s Mutualized Platform for Microbiology (P2M), which performs genome sequencing on bacterial, viral, fungal and parasite strains received by National Reference Centers and World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for the purpose of infectious disease surveillance.

The study goes on to explain that during January 11-12, the Chinese authorities shared the full sequence of the coronavirus genome, as detected in samples taken from the first patients. “Sequencing the genome of pathogens is crucial for the development of specific diagnostic tests and the identification of potential treatment options,” adds Sylvie van der Werf, Director of the National Reference Center (CNR) for Respiratory Viruses at the Institut Pasteur.

Thursday January 30, 2020. The Institut Pasteur obtains and shares the whole sequence of the virus

“The sequences were identical in all our samples. One member of the couple must have contaminated the other, as the virus is the same.” The two full sequences of the virus isolated in two of the first French cases were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) platform, which was initially developed to share sequences and monitor the genetic evolution of influenza viruses, a process that is vital to determine the composition of the influenza vaccine. A special “coronavirus” tab has been created so that the scientific community can work together and advance at a quicker pace,” Science Daily.

The AKC says that for now pet parents need to just follow normal safety protocol with plenty of handwashing with soap and water. Pets do not need face masks. As usual, consult with your veterinarian if you notice a change in your pet.

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