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A Pre- and Within-Pandemic Survey of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Saliva Swabs from Stray Cats in Switzerland


Kuhlmeier, Evelyn; Chan, Tatjana; Klaus, Julia; Pineroli, Benita; Geisser, Esther; Hofmann-Lehmann, Regina; Meli, Marina L (2022). A Pre- and Within-Pandemic Survey of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Saliva Swabs from Stray Cats in Switzerland. Viruses, 14(4):681.

Abstract

Cats have been shown to be highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and transmission within the species has been demonstrated experimentally. In cats undergoing natural SARS-CoV-2 infections, human-to-animal transmission was mostly suspected. It can be postulated that, in stray cats with no or only minimal contact with humans, SARS-CoV-2 may pose a minor risk. The current study investigated the prevalence of active SARS-CoV-2 infections in Swiss stray cats using quantitative reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Saliva swabs from 1405 stray cats were collected in 14 Swiss cantons. The animals were sampled between February 2019 and February 2020 (pre-COVID-19 cohort: 523 cats) and between February 2020 and August 2021 (COVID-19 cohort: 882 cats). All the samples were tested by RT-qPCR, amplifying the envelope (E) gene and, in case of positive or inconclusive results, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene of SARS-CoV-2. No SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA could be detected in any of the tested saliva swab samples. Our findings support the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 infections in stray cats are not highly prevalent in Switzerland. Nevertheless, the monitoring of stray cats and other susceptible animal species is necessary, since the “One Health” approach has been recognized as being essential to successfully fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abstract

Cats have been shown to be highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and transmission within the species has been demonstrated experimentally. In cats undergoing natural SARS-CoV-2 infections, human-to-animal transmission was mostly suspected. It can be postulated that, in stray cats with no or only minimal contact with humans, SARS-CoV-2 may pose a minor risk. The current study investigated the prevalence of active SARS-CoV-2 infections in Swiss stray cats using quantitative reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Saliva swabs from 1405 stray cats were collected in 14 Swiss cantons. The animals were sampled between February 2019 and February 2020 (pre-COVID-19 cohort: 523 cats) and between February 2020 and August 2021 (COVID-19 cohort: 882 cats). All the samples were tested by RT-qPCR, amplifying the envelope (E) gene and, in case of positive or inconclusive results, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene of SARS-CoV-2. No SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA could be detected in any of the tested saliva swab samples. Our findings support the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 infections in stray cats are not highly prevalent in Switzerland. Nevertheless, the monitoring of stray cats and other susceptible animal species is necessary, since the “One Health” approach has been recognized as being essential to successfully fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Center for Clinical Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Life Sciences > Virology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Virology, Infectious Diseases
Language:English
Date:25 March 2022
Deposited On:22 Jun 2022 13:30
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:1999-4915
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040681
PubMed ID:35458411
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)