Conclusive proof needed for animal virus reservoirs

21 Mar 2020

Brownlie, J.

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Recent reports from Hong Kong and China have declared a dog to be infected with Covid-19. It is unsurprising to me that dogs should be infected with a beta coronavirus (the same group of coronaviruses into which Covid-19 is now placed).

In 2003, myself and colleagues discovered a beta coronavirus in dogs during our investigations of an acute respiratory disease outbreak in a rehoming kennel in the UK.1 Several months after our publication, the identification of the coronavirus responsible for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was first published. The similarity between the two viruses caused some panic euthanasia of dogs in China. This was both unfortunate and unwarranted. Although both viruses were similar, they were not the same. There was, and still is, no evidence that the canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) is zoonotic in spite of the high infection rate in those kennels with a high incidence...