Coronaviruses are enveloped RNA viruses capable of causing respiratory, enteric, or systemic diseases in a variety of mammalian hosts that vary in clinical severity from subclinical to fatal. The host range and tissue tropism are largely determined by the coronaviral spike protein, which initiates cellular infection by promoting fusion of the viral and host cell membranes. Companion animal coronaviruses responsible for causing enteric infection include feline enteric coronavirus, ferret enteric coronavirus, canine enteric coronavirus, equine coronavirus, and alpaca enteric coronavirus, while canine respiratory coronavirus and alpaca respiratory coronavirus result in respiratory infection. Ferret systemic coronavirus and feline infectious peritonitis virus, a mutated feline enteric coronavirus, can lead to lethal immuno-inflammatory systemic disease. Recent human viral pandemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and most recently, COVID-19, all thought to originate from bat coronaviruses, demonstrate the zoonotic potential of coronaviruses and their potential to have devastating impacts. A better understanding of the coronaviruses of companion animals, their capacity for cross-species transmission, and the sharing of genetic information may facilitate improved prevention and control strategies for future emerging zoonotic coronaviruses. This article reviews the clinical, epidemiologic, virologic, and pathologic characteristics of nine important coronaviruses of companion animals.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited