Virucidal and antiviral effects of Thymus vulgaris essential oil on feline coronavirus

Res Vet Sci. 2021 Jul;137:44-47. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2021.04.024. Epub 2021 Apr 22.


Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal systemic disease of felids caused by a Coronavirus (CoV) (FIPV). In spite of its clinical relevance and impact on feline health, currently the therapeutic possibilities for treatment of FIP in cats are limited. The emergence of the pandemic Severe Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (CoV) type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), etiological agent of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), able to infect a broad spectrum of animal species including cats, triggered the interest for the development of novel molecules with antiviral activity for treatment of CoV infections in humans and animals. Essential oils (EOs) have raised significant attention for their antiviral properties integrating and, in some cases, replacing conventional drugs. Thymus vulgaris EO (TEO) has been previously shown to be effective against several RNA viruses including CoVs. In the present study the antiviral efficacy of TEO against FIPV was evaluated in vitro. TEO at 27 μg/ml was able to inhibit virus replication with a significant reduction of 2 log10 TCID50/50 μl. Moreover, virucidal activity was tested using TEO at 27 and 270 μg/ml, over the cytotoxic threshold, determining a reduction of viral titre as high as 3.25 log10 TCID50/50 μl up to 1 h of time contact. These results open several perspectives in terms of future applications and therapeutic possibilities for coronaviruses considering that FIPV infection in cats could be a potential model for the study of antivirals against CoVs.

Keywords: FIP; Feline Coronavirus; Thymus Essential Oil; Thymus vulgaris.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Line
  • Coronavirus, Feline / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Thymus Plant / chemistry*
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils