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Animals and SARS-CoV-2: Species susceptibility and viral transmission in experimental and natural conditions, and the potential implications for community transmission.
  • Emma Hobbs,
  • Tristan Reid
Emma Hobbs
CSIRO
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Tristan Reid
CSIRO
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Abstract

The current COVID-19 global pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) of probable bat origin, has highlighted the ongoing need for a One Health response to emerging zoonotic disease events, which are significantly increasing over time. Understanding the human-animal interface and its relevance to disease transmission remains a critical control point for many emerging zoonoses. Determination of the susceptibility of various animal species to infection with SARS-CoV-2 and the role of animals in the epidemiology of the disease will be critical to informing appropriate human and veterinary public health responses to this pandemic. A scoping literature review was conducted to collect, evaluate and present the available research evidence regarding SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals. Experimental studies have successfully demonstrated SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in cats, ferrets, hamsters, bats and non-human primates under experimental settings. Dogs appear to have limited susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, while other domestic species including pigs and poultry do not appear susceptible. Naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals appear uncommon, with 14 pets, 8 captive big cats and an unreported number of farmed mink testing positive to date. Infections typically appear asymptomatic in dogs, while clinical signs of respiratory and/or gastrointestinal disease tend to be mild to moderate in felines, and severe to fatal in mink. Most animal cases have been infected by close contact with COVID-19 patients. In domestic settings, viral transmission is self-limiting, however in high density animal environments there can be sustained between-animal transmission. To date, two potential cases of animal-to-human transmission are being investigated, on infected mink farms. Given the millions of COVID-19 cases worldwide and ongoing potential for further zoonotic and anthroponotic viral transmission, further research and surveillance activities are needed to definitively determine the role of animals in community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

03 Jul 2020Submitted to Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
06 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
06 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
07 Jul 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
09 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major