The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, caused by SARS-CoVand MERS-CoV, respectively, demonstrated the zoonotic potential of coronaviruses. The new human coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), left its probable wild animal reservoir, has spread rapidly to all continents, finding in humans a receptive population and able to allow an efficient intraspecific transmission.
Recently, some observational and experimental evidence has brought the susceptibility of animals to SARS-CoV-2 to the attention of the scientific community and health authorities.
In a commentary article recently published in the journal Animals, Professor Antonio Giordano, Director and Founder of the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) and Professor of Pathology at the University of Siena, Italy, says, “we tried to highlight the role that animals could play in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to humans and therefore in the epidemiology of the disease itself.”
In the face of the very few cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in pets (cats, ferrets and dogs) reported by veterinary surveillance and experimental studies, the susceptibility of pets to SARS-CoV-2 is strictly dependent on direct contact with positive people, say the authors.
At present, “there is no evidence that pets play an epidemiological role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to humans; on the contrary, the data exclude their role in the spread of the virus,” says co-author Francesca Ciani from the University of Naples Federico II.
However, “It is important to promote the exchange of information between veterinarians and the Higher Institute of Health to make the right recommendations and implement SARS-CoV-2 risk management measures using One-Health approach,” concludes Caterina Costa of the National Cancer Institute of Naples, Pascale Foundation.