Can coronaviruses in general be transferred from animal to humans?

Many strains of coronavirus cannot spread from animals to humans and vice versa. There are some coronaviruses that have demonstrated the ability to cross species as seen in the 2003 SARS – CoV outbreak  which originated from the civet cat and MERS – CoV which was transmitted from camels (5).  In order for the transmission of a pathogen from an animal to a human to occur, several factors need to align (6). 


It is uncertain which species the current SARS – CoV -2 spilled over from but it’s genetic code is very similar to that of a coronavirus found in horseshoe bats (7) . To date however there is not enough scientific evidence to identify the source or explain the route of transmission from an animal source to humans (5).


  1. 26/03/20

  2. 30/03/20


  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lesson 1: Introduction to epidemiology. Section 11: Epidemic disease occurrence. Level of disease. Updated May 18, 2012 26/03/20

  5. 29/03/20

  6. Raina K. Plowright et al. Pathways to zoonotic spillover Nat Rev Microbiol. 2017; 15(8): 502–510.  Published online 2017 May 30. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017. 

  7. Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I. et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med (2020). 17 March 2020.

  8. 29/03/20

  9. AVA email communication 28/03.20 : COVID-19: Report of human transmission to pet cat in Belgium.

  10. AVA Client information sheet COVID-19 and companion animals 18/03/20

  11. 29/03/20

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