Coronavirus in animals: symptoms, vaccine, cure

Coronavirus in animals: symptoms, vaccine, cure

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illness. The illnesses caused range from the common cold to more severe ones. Several types of coronavirus have been reported. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) are some of the extreme cases associated with these viruses.


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These viruses are zoonotic, meaning that they get transmitted between people and animals. SARS-CoV was transmitted to humans from civet cats, whereas MER-CoV gets transmitted from dromedary camels. Most of these viruses are found within animals, some of which have not affected human beings.

Coronavirus definition

What is Coronavirus? It is a kind of common virus that causes infection in the upper throat, sinuses, or nose. Most of these viruses are not dangerous. However, some have extreme repercussions on the health of humans, and animals can even result in deaths. They are spread through the air by coughs, sneezes, touching surface contaminated by the viruses, or coming in contact with infected humans or animals.

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The virus derives its name from the fact that when viewed under an electron microscope, it has a ring of projections that resemble a coronet, or rather, a small crown made of ornaments fixed on a metal ring.

The viruses were first reported in the 1960s, in the nose of a patient with a common cold. However, it remains unclear where they came from. Almost every person gets coronavirus infection at least once in their lifetime, more so in childhood.

In countries such as the United States of America, people are commonly infected during the winter. Nonetheless, anyone can catch the virus at any time. Other than humans, the disease can as well affect birds, horses, cats, dogs, cattle, mice, and rats.

The virus in animals enters the Coronavirus host target cell. A complete entry into this cell requires two critical steps. First, it binds to the cell surface by means of attachment to the cell's receptor. It then fuses with the cell membrane, which then allows the release of genomes into the cell.

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Coronavirus in dogs

The virus is highly infectious in dogs. It attacks the intestinal parts of the dogs causing discomfort in the infected animal. The virus which causes this disease in dogs belongs to the family Coronaviridae. Different types of coronavirus dogs experience bring about infections in several species of animals and birds.

Coronavirus in dogs

Source: UGC

Signs and symptoms in dogs

All dogs are vulnerable to this highly contagious infection. The dog could get infected through a direct contact with an infected dog, eating from contaminated bowls, or waste matter. The coronavirus incubation period in dogs is short, between three to four days. How then would you know that your dog has contracted the disease?

  • Diarrhea which resolves without treatment
  • Depression and vomiting
  • Loss or lack of appetite
  • Fever

How do you treat coronavirus in dogs?

There is no specific treatment, for his infection, however, supportive care would help it. A dog would need fluid therapy, antibiotics to prevent other diseases, and rest. In cases of diarrhea and vomiting, medication is prescribed to manage these coronavirus symptoms.

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Because the signs and symptoms are similar to those of other common diseases, a veterinary doctor has to test to rule out the other infections from bacteria and viruses. The duration of the ailment may be between two to ten days. That said, it is crucial to understand that a dog can be a carrier of the virus for about six months.

A vaccine prevents canine coronavirus. However, coronavirus vaccine is not the core vaccines as it may be included in others, which are meant for more severe infections.

Can humans get coronavirus from dogs?

Are you concerned whether dog coronavirus can be transferred to humans? Well, canine coronavirus does not affect humans.

Coronavirus in cats

Feline coronavirus (FCoV) is a viral infection in cats caused by asymptomatic infections. This infection is poorly understood. In most cases, it develops into Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).

Coronavirus in cats

Source: UGC

Cats that infected by this disease can eliminate subsequent infections. However, this viral disease can be persistent in some cats. These cats spread the virus through contact, waste matter, and thus serve as a source of the infection.

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The continuous spread and circulation of this viral infection among cats might lead to the emerging of FIP strains. To prevent infection, the asymptomatic cats have to be isolated from the rest.

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Symptoms of the infection in cats

How do you know that your cat has been infected or is a carrier of this contagious disease? It is recommended that a test be carried on the cat to determine whether is has FCoV or not. It is so because the signs and symptoms resemble those of other infections. Some of the most common symptoms are enumerated below.

  • Poor growth in kittens
  • Anemia and jaundice
  • Diarrhea, fever and depression
  • Inflammation of various parts of eye
  • Neurological symptoms

Can you treat coronavirus in cats?

Coronavirus cure in cats has been such a complex exercise among the veterinarians. First, there is no sure therapy that would reduce the chance of FCoV developing into FIP. Additionally, the treatment of Feline infectious peritonitis is usually unsuccessful because the disease is fatal.

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Immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive may be of help to a small population of cats. Nonetheless, the general procedure to help prolong the life of your cat would be supportive care. It could involve relief of effusions that impair respiration, parenteral fluid therapy, blood transfusion, antibiotic therapy, and nutritional supplementation.

Coronavirus in horse

Coronavirus diagnosis has revealed a new enteric viral disease in adult horses. The Equine Coronavirus (ECoV) is a recently identified contagious infection that has generated high levels of concern. The virus may be transmitted through waste matter or when the horses come together in competitions or any other gathering.

Coronavirus in horses

Source: UGC

What are the coronavirus symptoms in horses?

How would you know that your horse is infected? Infection with ECoV has been associated with;

  • Fever
  • Lethargy and anorexia
  • Colic and diarrhea

However, tests need to be performed to ensure that the horse is infected. This is because the symptoms above are similar to those of other infections.

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Treatment of this specific infection in horses involves supportive care based on the clinical signs. In the case of severe conditions, the horse may require hospitalization for IV fluid therapy. Therapy to prevent secondary infections would also be helpful to the horse.

Coronavirus in human beings

In the recent past, the cases of this specific disease among human beings have been on the rise. It is not uncommon for people to catch this kind of infection, especially during the winter and early months of spring. The disease is known to reoccur since their antibodies do not last for long, and also an antibody for one strain may be less effective against the other. Therefore it is not unusual for someone to suffer for the cold now and catch it again after three or so months.

Some of the most common ones include, (HCoV-229E), (HCoV-OC43), (HCoV-NL63), and Human coronavirus HKU1. Even though the disease may infect humans in different forms, two significant cases of this virus have been of concern worldwide. These coronavirus in babies and adults are more severe. They include;

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  • SARS coronavirus (SAR-CoV)
  • MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

1. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SAR-CoV)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), SAR-CoV was first discovered at the end of February 2003. However, another supplementary source alludes that the disease began in southern China in the province of Guangdong in November 2002. Since then, it has rapidly spread across major countries in the world.

SARS coronavirus

Source: UGC

The virus is unique in its sense as it can affect the upper and lower respiratory tract as well as gastroenteritis. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome develops over time and may lead to pneumonia. In its advanced stages, it may cause lungs, heart, and liver failure.

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How is SARS spread?

It is spread in similar ways as flu and cold. This, therefore, means that it can be transmitted from one person to another through cough, sneeze, and coming in contact with contaminated surfaces. It may as well spread through the waste of an infected patient.

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Signs and symptoms of SAR

Early conditions of this infection may include;

  • A dry cough
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Joint pain
  • Lack or loss of appetite
  • High body temperature

SARS coronavirus treatment

Because of coronavirus replication ability, there is no known cure for SARS. However, research is ongoing for its treatment. The virus can mutate. Similar to other diseases such as HIV, coronavirus has mutated over time, making it pretty challenging to determine its cure.

SARS coronavirus prevention

Prevention is better than cure. There are sets of measures people need to take to ensure that they do not become victims or spread this contagious disease. Below are some of the steps.

  • Wash the hands thoroughly using an alcohol based hand detergent
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoid sharing food, drink, and utensils
  • Regular cleaning of surfaces with disinfectant

2. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus

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This is yet another severe case of these infections. MERS surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since rapidly spread to other parts of the world, killing a considerable number of people. It is a severe respiratory ailment that is feared by many. The largest recent outbreak of MERS occurred in South Korea in 2015.

MERS coronavirus

Image:, @China Daily
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MERS-CoV has been known only to affect humans, camels, and bats. It is thought that it was first in bats, which transmitted to camels that, in turn, passed the infection to humans. However, it is impossible to determine how this happened.

Two cases of MERS-CoV got discovered in the United States of America in 2014. Both patients, one from India and the other from Florida were diagnosed with the infection. The two had traveled to Saudi Arabia. They, however, recovered after three weeks.

Symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

The following are commonly observed signs and symptoms in patients with MERS-CoV.

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  • Mild body pains
  • Pain in the chest
  • Sore throat and headache
  • Diarrhea, nausea and regular vomiting

In extreme cases, the infection may result in pneumonia and organ failure, more so the kidney.

Treatment of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for this infection. However, supportive care can relieve symptoms and prevent risk and complications associated with the disease.

Prevention measures are similar to those taken to prevent SARS-CoV. However, it is essential to note that MERS-CoV does not appear to be passed from humans through close contact, for example, caring for an infected patient without protection.

Contrary to common misconception, coronavirus has existed among animals and humans for a while now. The increasing infections, MERS-CoV, and SARS CoV, have been of great concern to many people around the world. Ailments resulting from the virus can not be treated with specific medicines or vaccines. However, measures are in place to mitigate the spread.

Disclaimer: All the information contained in this article is not implied or intended to be a substitute for any professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content including text, images, graphics, and information contained on or available through this page is for general information purposes.

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