Of course: Mysterious dog illness revealed to be a coronavirus!

LANCASHIRE, England — The word “coronavirus” has quickly become one of the most dreaded terms in our collective vernacular. Now, it appears even dogs have reason to despise the word. Researchers from Lancaster University say a canine mystery illness reported by many vets in recent years is caused by an animal coronavirus variety. The main symptom of this ailment is vomiting.

Around late 2019 and early 2020, veterinarians over the United Kingdom started reporting more and more cases of “acute onset prolific vomiting” among their canine patients. So, the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNet) at the University of Liverpool decided to survey 1,258 vets and pet owners on the topic, as well as analyze 95 clinical samples collected from 71 animals.

Then, a collaborative team of scientists from multiple U.K. universities studied all that data to conclude the illness is most likely being caused by a variant of canine enteric coronavirus (CeCoV). To be clear, canine coronaviruses only affect dogs, so there is no risk here of humans being infected by this particular coronavirus. Of course, we all have enough to worry about in that department as is anyway.

“We’ve developed complex statistical models to look for disease outbreaks. Being able to rapidly detect increased incidence, without triggering a false alarm from a natural random variation, is the key problem here. Early detection is crucial to early treatment and enhanced monitoring,” says Dr. Barry Rowlingson from Lancaster University in a release. “The SAVSNet Agile project aims to feed information back to local veterinary practices so they can be alert to any new outbreaks.”

It’s worth noting that male dogs appear to be somewhat more vulnerable to this canine coronavirus than female canines.

“Obtaining such important results at an early stage of my PhD is a wonderful achievement and will hopefully provide a pathway of higher visibility into the health of domestic animals,” concludes Charlotte Appleton, SAVSNet Agile PhD Student.

The study is published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.