SARS-CoV-2 host diversity: An update of natural infections and experimental evidence

J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2021 Apr;54(2):175-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jmii.2020.06.006. Epub 2020 Jun 25.


Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is now a pandemic threat. This virus is supposed to be spread by human to human transmission. Cellular angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the receptor of SARS-CoV-2 which is identical or similar in different species of animals such as pigs, ferrets, cats, orangutans, monkeys, and humans. Moreover, a recent study predicted that dogs might be secondary hosts during the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 from bat to human. Therefore, there is a possibility of spreading SARS-CoV-2 through domestic pets. There are now many reports of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in dogs, cats, tigers, lion, and minks. Experimental data showed ferrets and cats are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 as infected by virus inoculation and can transmit the virus directly or indirectly by droplets or airborne routes. Based on these natural infection reports and experimental data, whether the pets are responsible for SARS-CoV-2 spread to humans; needs to be deeply investigated. Humans showing clinical symptoms of respiratory infections have been undergoing for the COVID-19 diagnostic test but many infected people and few pets confirmed with SARS-CoV-2 remained asymptomatic. In this review, we summarize the natural cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals with the latest researches conducted in this field. This review will be helpful to think insights of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions, spread, and demand for seroprevalence studies, especially in companion animals.

Keywords: Animals; COVID-19; Pets; SARS-CoV-2; Transmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / transmission*
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Host Microbial Interactions
  • Host Specificity*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pets / virology
  • Phylogeny
  • SARS-CoV-2* / classification
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2* / isolation & purification
  • Species Specificity
  • Zoonoses / transmission*
  • Zoonoses / virology*