Transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to animals: an updated review

J Transl Med. 2020 Sep 21;18(1):358. doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02534-2.


COVID-19 caused by a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) originated in Wuhan (Hubei province, China) during late 2019. It has spread across the globe affecting nearly 21 million people with a toll of 0.75 million deaths and restricting the movement of most of the world population during the past 6 months. COVID-19 became the leading health, economic, and humanitarian challenge of the twenty-first century. In addition to the considerable COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in humans, several cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in animal hosts (dog, cat, tiger, lion, and mink) have been reported. Thus, the concern of pet owners is increasing. Moreover, the dynamics of the disease requires further explanation, mainly concerning the transmission of the virus from humans to animals and vice versa. Therefore, this study aimed to gather information about the reported cases of COVID-19 transmission in animals through a literary review of works published in scientific journals and perform genomic and phylogenetic analyses of SARS-CoV-2 isolated from animal hosts. Although many instances of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 have been reported, caution and further studies are necessary to avoid the occurrence of maltreatment in animals, and to achieve a better understanding of the dynamics of the disease in the environment, humans, and animals. Future research in the animal-human interface can help formulate and implement preventive measures to combat the further transmission of COVID-19.

Keywords: Animals; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Epidemiology; One Health; Pandemic; Pet animals; SARS-CoV-2; Zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus* / classification
  • Betacoronavirus* / genetics
  • Betacoronavirus* / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Cats
  • Coronavirus / classification
  • Coronavirus / genetics
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Coronavirus Infections / veterinary*
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary
  • Disease Reservoirs / virology
  • Dogs
  • Genome, Viral
  • Humans
  • Mink / virology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Pandemics / veterinary*
  • Pets / virology
  • Phylogeny
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Pneumonia, Viral / veterinary*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / genetics
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / transmission*


  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2