A MYSTERIOUS outbreak of vomiting dogs in 2020 was caused by a coronavirus similar to Covid-19, a study has found.
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At the same time as the Covid pandemic was spreading rapidly across the world, pet owners and vets were reporting a surge in dogs getting sick (stock image)Credit: Alamy
Researchers believe the spike in sick pets was caused by an animal coronavirus, most likely to have been a variant of canine enteric coronavirus.
Humans can’t catch the virus, and it is not the same as SARS-CoV-2 – the bug which causes Covid-19.
Pet owners at the time were unsure as to why their animals were getting seriously sick.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Lancaster gave out 1,258 questionnaires to vets and pet owners.
They also used 95 clinical samples taken from 71 animals.
Disease outbreaks among dogs are uncommon as records usually only come from domestic animals and not strays.
Dogs have their own highly-effective vaccines to prevent bug outbreaks.
Vet Danielle Greenberg, who works in England’s North West, noticed there were around 40 cases of serious vomiting in dogs when she reached out to her colleagues.
Ms Greenberg is a co-author of the paper which identified the cause of the coronavirus outbreak in dogs.
Health records were analysed which had information on breed, sex, age, owners’ postcodes and vaccine status.
Sick dogs were given a PCR test – which found that they had the canine enteric coronavirus.
The outbreak was tracked from December 2019 to March 2020 – with a peak on February 2, 2020, just as Covid was taking hold around the globe.
Less than one per cent of dogs died after catching the bug and most recovered in less than a week,
The researchers wrote in the study which was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases: “In conclusion, this multidisciplinary approach enabled a rapid response to a newly described outbreak of canine gastroenteritis and identified a CeCoV [canine enteric coronavirus] a potential cause.
“Previous CeCoV seasonality suggests further outbreaks may occur.”