Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that have been found in dogs, cats, horses, cattle, swine, chickens, turkeys, humans, and bats. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA, several bat coronaviruses have been shown to be zoonotic pathogens (able to be transmitted to humans), and the human illnesses they cause range in severity from a mild cold to severe pneumonia, with the potential to be fatal.

Dr. Christopher W. Olsen, ( Professor Emeritus of Public Health of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine and Public Health) states that there are a number of coronaviruses that have infected people for decades. These viruses have represented 10 to 20% of the common cold in people. Did you realize the viruses that cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are each novel coronaviruses that humans have no immunity against? That makes humans fully susceptible to them. Another important fact stated by Dr. Linda Saif, PhD.(Professor and Cornovirus( Researcher at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine) is that the fatality rates for SARS and MERS have been 10% and 34% respectively. The estimated fatality rate for COVID-19 ranges from less than 1% to as high as 34%. WHY??? Dr. Saif explains that , for unknown reasons, neither SARS nor MERS, were as highly INFECTIOUS and adapted to human- to- human transmission as the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Saif continues to explain the coronaviruses are able to acquire mutations and can recombine with their RNA. This means cornaviruses are more likely to evolve and gain the ability for INTER SPECIES TRANSMISSION!! This is partly why we are seeing coronaviruses more frequently causing pandemics

Dr Saif insists that veterinarians should be involved in all aspects of zoonotic infections, in concert with a one-health approach. Dr Noah (Associate Professor of Public Heath and Epidemiology at Lincoln Memorial University of Veterinary Medicine) states that zoonotic pathogens do not perceive species differences or geographic boundaries! The problem is disease surveillance and response systems are managed between the human, veterinary, and environmental communities. That means that disease recognizes no international borders!

Regarding whwther a pet can be infected with COVID-19 virus by a sick owner, Dr. Saif noted that researchers will want to investigate that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that there is NO EVIDENCE THAT PETS BECOME SICK and that there is NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT PET DOGS OR CATS CAN BE A SOURCE OF INFECTION with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to people. The AVMA has developed a series of FAQS that includes that topic.

The AVMA is providing resources about COVID-19 at, which include updated FAQS for veterinarians and veterinary clinics as well as for PET OWNERS!!