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Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS–coronavirus 2

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Science  29 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6494, pp. 1016-1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb7015

Alternative hosts and model animals

The severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic may have originated in bats, but how it made its way into humans is unknown. Because of its zoonotic origins, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to exclusively infect humans, so it would be valuable to have an animal model for drug and vaccine development. Shi et al. tested ferrets, as well as livestock and companion animals of humans, for their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 (see the Perspective by Lakdawala and Menachery). The authors found that SARS-CoV-2 infects the upper respiratory tracts of ferrets but is poorly transmissible between individuals. In cats, the virus replicated in the nose and throat and caused inflammatory pathology deeper in the respiratory tract, and airborne transmission did occur between pairs of cats. Dogs appeared not to support viral replication well and had low susceptibility to the virus, and pigs, chickens, and ducks were not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.

Science, this issue p. 1016; see also p. 942

Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes the infectious disease COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), which was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Despite extensive efforts to control the disease, COVID-19 has now spread to more than 100 countries and caused a global pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have originated in bats; however, the intermediate animal sources of the virus are unknown. In this study, we investigated the susceptibility of ferrets and animals in close contact with humans to SARS-CoV-2. We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but ferrets and cats are permissive to infection. Additionally, cats are susceptible to airborne transmission. Our study provides insights into the animal models for SARS-CoV-2 and animal management for COVID-19 control.

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