A type of coronavirus could be the cause of a mysterious canine illness in the UK

Currently, an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease is affecting dogs in the UK. Experts suspect a coronavirus to be the cause of this situation. Increasingly reported since the beginning of 2022, this disease is however caused by a coronavirus different from that which causes Covid-19.

Faced with the increase in the number of cases, the SAVSNET or Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network at the University of Liverpool decided to carry out an investigation. With the help of several veterinarians, the organization was able to confirm that symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting were indeed appearing in dogs across the country. This finding supports claims on social media that the dogs are getting sick.

For the moment, the origin of the disease is not yet certain. However, it seems to have started to appear in Yorkshire, in the north of England. Despite the lack of precise information, the SAVSNET was still able to gather some details concerning the symptoms and the contagious nature of the disease.

The most common symptoms

According to the SAVSNET, the most common clinical signs of the disease are loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhoea, both non-hemorrhagic. The majority (56/88) of owners with more than one dog in their home noticed similar symptoms in their other dogs. This suggests an infectious origin. However, the majority of dogs recovered within one to two weeks, although 60% required treatment.

Reportedly, nearly all of the infected dogs had been vaccinated within the past three years, and none had been to the beach before clinical signs appeared, ruling out a possible marine origin.

The causative agent

Rest assured, even if it is from the same family as SARS-CoV-2, the virus suspected of being the cause of the canine epidemic is not transmitted to humans. It could be the canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV) which had already caused a similar epidemic in the United Kingdom between 2019 and 2020. Highly contagious in the canine species, most infected individuals are however asymptomatic or show only mild symptoms. The virus is also easily neutralized using household cleaning products.

In order to continue studies on the subject and to identify the exact causes of this epidemic, the SAVSNET invites owners who suspect a similar infection in their dogs to complete a questionnaire and to collect stool samples for analysis.


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