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Humans, Dogs and Cats – Oh My!
What is dog coronavirus?
Canine coronavirus was identified in the 70s and causes gastrointestinal symptoms. This virus is most common in young puppies and attacks the lining of the intestines. This can cause symptoms such as acute diarrhoea (sometimes with blood and mucus), lethargy and decreased appetite. This virus is passed from animal to animal through direct contact, or through contact with faecal matter, but does not affect humans. A vaccine for canine coronavirus does exist but is only used in high risk environments (i.e. high density shelters), as they have shown limited effectiveness.
What is cat coronavirus?
Feline coronavirus is a common viral gastrointestinal infection in cats. It is usually an asymptomatic infection, but in some cases can cause mild diarrhoea that generally does not need treatment. Cats can catch it though contact with faeces, saliva and respiratory secretions. Vaccinations are not recommended for this disease as they have not been proven effective. In very rare cases Feline coronavirus has the ability to mutate within the cat and cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). FIP causes the accumulation of inflammation in the abdominal or chest space (wet form) or in the organs (dry form). Unfortunately the mutated form cannot be treated. Neither the original or mutated feline coronavirus will affect humans.
What is human coronavirus?
Human coronaviruses (we have plenty) are respiratory based and are believed to cause approximately a quarter of common colds. In some circumstances they can also cause pneumonia to develop. The newest strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19) causes a dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath. Less commonly it can also cause a sore throat, runny nose or sneezing. In rare cases it can progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure, similar to previous coronaviruses. The virus is spread from human to human via contact with respiratory secretions (i.e. coughing and sneezing). Recently there has been a weak positive in a dog from Hong Kong; through repeated testing they have confirmed that dogs can catch a low level and asymptomatic infection from humans. Officials report that dogs cannot pass the virus back to humans.
For the official statement from the Australian Veterinary Association: 4 March, 2020: Update about COVID-19