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SARS-CoV-2 infection in cats and dogs in infected mink farms
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  • Anna van Aart,
  • Francisca Velkers,
  • Egil Fischer,
  • Els Broens,
  • Herman Egberink,
  • Shan Zhao,
  • Marc Engelsma,
  • Renate Hakze-van der Honing,
  • Frank Harders,
  • Myrna de Rooij,
  • Carien Radstake,
  • Paola Meijer,
  • Bas Oude Munnink,
  • Jan de Rond,
  • Reina Sikkema,
  • Arco Van der Spek,
  • Marcel Spierenburg,
  • Wendy Wolters,
  • Robert-Jan Molenaar,
  • Marion Koopmans,
  • Wim van der Poel,
  • Arjan Stegeman,
  • Lidwien Smit
Anna van Aart
Utrecht University
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Francisca Velkers
Utrecht University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
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Egil Fischer
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
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Els Broens
Utrecht University
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Herman Egberink
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
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Shan Zhao
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
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Marc Engelsma
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research
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Renate Hakze-van der Honing
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Frank Harders
Central Veterinary Institute
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Myrna de Rooij
Utrecht University
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Carien Radstake
Stichting Zwerfkatten Nederland (Stray Cat Foundation Netherlands)
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Paola Meijer
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
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Bas Oude Munnink
Erasmus Medical Center
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Jan de Rond
GD Animal Health
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Reina Sikkema
Erasmus Medical Center
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Arco Van der Spek
Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)
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Marcel Spierenburg
Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)
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Wendy Wolters
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
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Robert-Jan Molenaar
GD Animal Health
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Marion Koopmans
Viroscience, Erasmus MC
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Wim van der Poel
Central Veterinary Institute
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Arjan Stegeman
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Utrecht University
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Lidwien Smit
Utrecht University
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Abstract

Animals like mink, cats and dogs are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. In the Netherlands, 69 out of 127 mink farms were infected with SARS-CoV-2 between April and November 2020 and all mink on infected farms were culled after SARS-CoV-2 infection to prevent further spread of the virus. On some farms, (feral) cats and dogs were present. This study provides insight into the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 positive cats and dogs in ten infected mink farms and their possible role in transmission of the virus. Throat and rectal swabs of 101 cats (12 domestic and 89 feral cats) and 13 dogs of ten farms were tested for SARS-CoV-2 using PCR. Serological assays were performed on serum samples from 62 adult cats and all 13 dogs. Whole Genome Sequencing was performed on one cat sample. Cat-to-mink transmission parameters were estimated using data from all ten farms. This study shows evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in twelve feral cats and two dogs. Eleven cats (19%) and two dogs (15%) tested serologically positive. Three feral cats (3%) and one dog (8%) tested PCR-positive. The sequence generated from the cat throat swab clustered with mink sequences from the same farm. The calculated rate of mink-to-cat transmission showed that cats on average had a chance of 12% (95%CI 10% to 18%) of becoming infected by mink, assuming no cat-to-cat transmission. As only feral cats were infected it is most likely that infections in cats were initiated by mink, not by humans. Whether both dogs were infected by mink or humans remains inconclusive. This study presents one of the first reports of interspecies transmission of SARS-CoV-2 that does not involve humans, namely mink-to-cat transmission, which should also be considered as a potential risk for spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

24 Mar 2021Submitted to Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
24 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
24 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
12 Apr 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
27 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor