Several animal species, including ferrets, hamsters, monkeys, and raccoon dogs, have been shown to be susceptible to experimental infection by the human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, which were responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, respectively. Emerging studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 natural infection of pet dogs and cats is also possible, but its prevalence is not fully understood. Experimentally, it has been demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 replicates more efficiently in cats than in dogs and that cats can transmit the virus through aerosols. With approximately 470 million pet dogs and 370 million pet cats cohabitating with their human owners worldwide, the finding of natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in these household pets has important implications for potential zoonotic transmission events during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as future SARS-related outbreaks. Here, we describe some of the ongoing worldwide surveillance efforts to assess the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in companion, captive, wild, and farmed animals, as well as provide some perspectives on these efforts including the intra- and inter-species coronavirus transmissions, evolution, and their implications on the human-animal interface along with public health. Some ongoing efforts to develop and implement a new COVID-19 vaccine for animals are also discussed. Surveillance initiatives to track SARS-CoV-2 exposures in animals are necessary to accurately determine their impact on veterinary and human health, as well as define potential reservoir sources of the virus and its evolutionary and transmission dynamics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by seed funds from the University of Minnesota Office of Clinical and Academic Affairs’ COVID-19 rapid response mechanism to H.L.M. and H.L. The corresponding author (H.L.) wishes to dedicate this article in loving memory of his father. The first author (H.M.) would also like to dedicate this article to her grandparents.
The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article. This work was supported in part by seed funds from the University of Minnesota Office of Clinical and Academic Affairs? COVID-19 rapid response mechanism to H.L.M. and H.L. The corresponding author (H.L.) wishes to dedicate this article in loving memory of his father. The first author (H.M.) would also like to dedicate this article to her grandparents.
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.