The news is filled with breaking stories about the spread of a coronavirus, dubbed nCoV-2019. This is a scary disease, and recent news reports have led to many questions from pet owners and travelers alike.
This virus appears to have had its start in a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China. The nCoV-2019 virus appears to have initiated in either bats or snakes and mutated to a form that infects humans. Initially, it appeared that the cases were all direct exposures from animals in the market in China. However, now there are reports of human-to-human cases including health care workers and a case of wife-to-husband transmission in Chicago.
At this time, there is no indication that our domestic dogs, cats, and other animals in the United States are involved. It does not appear that our pets in the U.S. either have this virus, nCoV-2019, or are able to contract it.
We know dogs, cats, and some other mammals have their own versions of Coronavirus, including both those that cause GI syndromes (vomiting and diarrhea, mostly in very young puppies and kittens) and upper respiratory syndromes. There are two forms of coronavirus in cats, the enteric form, and the FIP form – both wet and dry. FIP and enteric coronavirus in cats also do not appear to be related to the current outbreak in humans. The two diseases cannot be easily distinguished between. The disease is named “coronavirus” as the virus appears to be crown-like in electron microscope images.
The current outbreak has not changed our recommendations for vaccinating our pets. In general, we do not recommend vaccinating all of our dogs or cats for coronavirus. Some breeding females may be vaccinated against coronavirus, the intestinal form, to protect her pups. In high-risk cats, we may recommend vaccinating for FIP, the feline form of coronavirus. There is no current human coronavirus vaccine but research is being done to develop one.
What you need to know about coronavirus:
- Dogs, cats, and some other mammals have their own versions of coronavirus which is different from the human version.
- At this time, there is no vaccine for human or animal coronavirus that will stop the spread of this new disorder.
- Surgical masks will not protect you from this new human virus. Only the fitted N-95 mask or better will protect you from exposure
- Avoiding travel to Wuhan, China or contact with infected people will reduce the risk of disease. Using soap and water, avoiding rubbing your face, and other personal hygiene skills will reduce your risk.