Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory samples from cats in the UK associated with human-to-cat transmission

Hosie, M. J. et al. (2021) Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory samples from cats in the UK associated with human-to-cat transmission. Veterinary Record, 188(8), e247. (doi: 10.1002/vetr.247) (PMID:33890314) (PMCID:PMC8251078)

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Objectives: The aim of the study was to find evidence of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection in UK cats. Design: Tissue samples were tested for SARS‐CoV‐2 antigen using immunofluorescence and for viral RNA by in situ hybridisation. A set of 387 oropharyngeal swabs that had been submitted for routine respiratory pathogen testing was tested for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA using reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR. Results: Lung tissue collected post‐mortem from cat 1 tested positive for both SARS‐CoV‐2 nucleocapsid antigen and RNA. SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA was detected in an oropharyngeal swab collected from cat 2 that presented with rhinitis and conjunctivitis. High throughput sequencing of the viral genome revealed five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) compared to the nearest UK human SARS‐CoV‐2 sequence, and this human virus contained eight SNPs compared to the original Wuhan‐Hu‐1 reference sequence. An analysis of the viral genome of cat 2 together with nine other feline‐derived SARS‐CoV‐2 sequences from around the world revealed no shared cat‐specific mutations. Conclusions: These findings indicate that human‐to‐cat transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2 occurred during the COVID‐19 pandemic in the UK, with the infected cats developing mild or severe respiratory disease. Given the ability of the new coronavirus to infect different species, it will be important to monitor for human‐to‐cat, cat‐to‐cat and cat‐to‐human transmission.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Cats, COVID-19, reverse zoonosis, SARS-CoV-2.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hosie, Professor Margaret and Streicker, Professor Daniel and Dunbar, Mrs Dawn and Robertson, Professor David and Willett, Professor Brian and Da Silva Filipe, Dr Ana and Weir, Professor Willie and Stevenson, Mr Andrew and Jarrett, Professor Ruth and MacDonald, Miss Emma and Johnson, Miss Natasha and Murcia, Professor Pablo and Epifano, Dr Ilaria and Herder, Dr Vanessa and Orton, Dr Richard
Authors: Hosie, M. J., Epifano, I., Herder, V., Orton, R. J., Stevenson, A., Johnson, N., MacDonald, E., Dunbar, D., McDonald, M., Howie, F., Tennant, B., Herrity, D., Da Silva Filipe, A., Streicker, D. G., COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, ., Willett, B. J., Murcia, P. R., Jarrett, R. F., Robertson, D. L., and Weir, W.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:Veterinary Record
ISSN (Online):2042-7670
Published Online:22 April 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Veterinary Record 188(8): e247
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172630Quinquennial Core FundsMassimo PalmariniMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12014/9III-MRC-GU CVR Support Services
Medical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12018/12
307106Epidemiology meets biotechnology: preventing viral emergence from batsDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)217221/Z/19/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine