N Z Vet J

. 2023 Mar 17;1-28.
doi: 10.1080/00480169.2023.2191349. Online ahead of print.
Cross-species transmission of coronaviruses with a focus on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in animals: a review for the veterinary practitioner

M Dunowska 1



AbstractIn 2019 a novel coronavirus termed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged from an unidentified source and spread rapidly among humans worldwide. While many human infections are mild, some result in severe clinical disease that in a small proportion of infected people is fatal. The pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been facilitated by efficient human-to-human transmission of the virus, with no data to indicate that animals contributed to this global health crisis. However, a range of domesticated and wild animals are also susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection under both experimental and natural conditions. Humans are presumed to be the source of most animal infections thus far, although natural transmission between mink and between free-ranging deer has occurred, and occasional natural transmission between cats cannot be fully excluded. Considering the ongoing circulation of the virus among people, together with its capacity to evolve through mutation and recombination, the risk of the emergence of animal-adapted variants is not negligible. If such variants remain infectious to humans, this could lead to the establishment of an animal reservoir for the virus, which would complicate control efforts. As such, minimising human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 should be considered as part of infection control efforts. The aim of this review is to summarise what is currently known about the species specificity of animal coronaviruses, with an emphasis on SARS-CoV-2, in the broader context of factors that facilitate cross-species transmission of viruses.

Keywords: COVID-19; New Zealand; SARS-CoV-2; animal coronaviruses; cross-species transmission.