Coronavirus goes viral: A global threat to humans and animals

Coronavirus (CoV) is causing widespread health, economic, and social problems. The current global threat to humans, officially named ‘COVID-19’ or ‘SARS-CoV-2’, had caused 113,672 confirmed infections and 4,012 deaths [1] in 110 countries as of March 10, 2020, according to WHO.

What is CoV and why is it so dangerous?

CoV in animals

  • The deadliest form of CoV infection in cats is called FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). Most cases of FCoV (feline coronavirus) infection either cause no symptoms or mild gut or respiratory tract infections. A change in virulence comes with a mutation of the virus that allows it to infect macrophages. Multiple organs become involved, triggering a disastrous immune response. Approximately 5% to 10% of FCoV-infected cats develop FIP and die from their illness [2].
  • IB (infectious bronchitis) is a CoV disease in chicken that affects the upper respiratory tract. It primarily targets ciliated cells, thus paving the way for secondary lung infections. Once the disease has spread to the gastrointestinal tract, it can kill up to 30% of broilers in their first 5 to 6 weeks of life [2].

Symptoms in humans



The best prevention is to stay calm and to take good care of your health. If you feel ill, stay at home and keep away from others.


  • Stay home, keep away from others, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Seek early telephone or online medical advice.
  • To avoid spreading the virus, do not visit your doctor, a chemist, or a hospital.

Your doctor may recommend paracetamol, aspirin, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for fever or myalgia. Seek further advice if your symptoms fail to resolve or worsen. Remember, your symptoms may be due to a health problem other than COVID-19.

Future treatment



[2]Selbitz H.-J., Truyen U., Valentin-Weigand P. (2015), Tiermedizinische Mikrobiologie, Infektions- und Seuchenlehre (10., aktualisierte Auflage). Stuttgart: Enke Verlag. S. 550–570






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