Overview of the most significant coronavirus infections in veterinary medicine

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Jakov Nišavić
Nenad Milić
Andrea Radalj


Background. Coronaviruses (CoVs) have been recognized in veterinary virology for a long time and comprise a large group of RNA viruses responsible for enteric, respiratory, hepatic, and neurologic diseases in a variety of animal species and humans. These
viruses are very adaptable considering their highly error-prone replication process and recombination ability, resulting in remarkable mutability and efficient expansion of their host range and tissue tropism.
Scope and Approach. In the recent past, after the outbreaks caused by SARS-CoV in 2002 and MERS-CoV in 2012, CoVs became a research focus in the scientific community. Moreover, the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic raised more questions concerning the
threats posed by these viruses. Several significant examples of coronaviruses jumping the species barrier and changing their tropism have been reported in the past, and novel viruses of both animals and humans have appeared as a consequence. This paper reviews some of the examples of CoV mutability and the most notable animal coronaviruses of veterinary relevance.
Key Findings and Conclusions. There is still no proof that the novel virus SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted to humans from domestic animals, and its recent cross-species jump is currently being intensively researched. Intensified and diverse human activities that
lead to the disruption of ecosystems contribute to the increased risk of contact with animals that might represent virus reservoirs. The need for constant surveillance of CoVs and expanded studies of their virological traits, mutation mechanisms, diversity, prophylactic and therapeutic measures highlight the key role of both veterinarians and medical doctors in order to preserve the health of the human population.


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Nišavić, J., Milić, N., & Radalj, A. (2020). Overview of the most significant coronavirus infections in veterinary medicine. Veterinarski Glasnik, 74(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.2298/VETGL2001001N