SARS-CoV-2 infection, disease and transmission in domestic cats
Natasha N Gaudreault,
Jessie D Trujillo,
David A Meekins,
Daniel W Madden,
Sabarish V Indran,
Bianca Libanori Artiaga,
William C Wilson,
Udeni B. R. Balasuriya,
Juergen A. Richt
Posted 04 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.04.235002 (published DOI: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1833687)
Posted 04 Aug 2020
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and responsible for the current pandemic. Recent SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and transmission studies in cats show that the virus can replicate in these companion animals and transmit to other cats. Here, we present an in-depth study of SARS-CoV-2 infection, associated disease and transmission dynamics in domestic cats. Six 4- to 5-month-old cats were challenged with SARS-CoV-2 via intranasal and oral routes simultaneously. One day post challenge (DPC), two sentinel contact cats were co-mingled with the principal infected animals. Animals were monitored for clinical signs, clinicopathological abnormalities and viral shedding throughout the 21 DPC observation period. Postmortem examinations were performed at 4, 7 and 21 DPC to investigate disease progression. Viral RNA was not detected in blood but transiently in nasal, oropharyngeal and rectal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid as well as various tissues. Tracheobronchoadenitis of submucosal glands with the presence of viral RNA and antigen was observed in airways of the infected cats on 4 and 7 DPC. Serology showed that both, principal and sentinel cats, developed SARS-CoV-2-specific and neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 detectable at 7 DPC or 10 DPC, respectively. All animals were clinically asymptomatic during the course of the study and capable of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to sentinels within 2 days of comingling. The results of this study are critical for our understanding of the clinical course of SARS-CoV-2 in a naturally susceptible host species, and for risk assessment of the maintenance of SARS-CoV-2 in felines and transmission to other animals and humans. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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