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Serological and Molecular Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 in Horses and Cattle in Switzerland from 2020 to 2022


Hüttl, Julia; Reitt, Katja; Meli, Marina L; Meili, Theres; Bönzli, Eva; Pineroli, Benita; Ginders, Julia; Schoster, Angelika; Jones, Sarah; Tyson, Grace B; Hosie, Margaret J; Pusterla, Nicola; Wernike, Kerstin; Hofmann-Lehmann, Regina (2024). Serological and Molecular Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 in Horses and Cattle in Switzerland from 2020 to 2022. Viruses, 16(2):224.

Abstract

Horses and cattle have shown low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, and there is no evidence of experimental intraspecies transmission. Nonetheless, seropositive horses in the US and seropositive cattle in Germany and Italy have been reported. The current study investigated the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in horses and cattle in Switzerland. In total, 1940 serum and plasma samples from 1110 horses and 830 cattle were screened with a species-specific ELISA based on the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and, in the case of suspect positive results, a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT) was used to demonstrate the neutralizing activity of the antibodies. Further confirmation of suspect positive samples was performed using either a pseudotype-based virus neutralization assay (PVNA; horses) or an indirect immunofluorescence test (IFA; cattle). The animals were sampled between February 2020 and December 2022. Additionally, in total, 486 bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), oropharyngeal, nasal and rectal swab samples from horses and cattle were analyzed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA via reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Six horses (0.5%; 95% CI: 0.2–1.2%) were suspect positive via RBD-ELISA, and neutralizing antibodies were detected in two of them via confirmatory sVNT and PVNA tests. In the PVNA, the highest titers were measured against the Alpha and Delta SARS-CoV-2 variants. Fifteen cattle (1.8%; 95% CI: 1.0–3.0%) were suspect positive in RBD-ELISA; 3 of them had SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibodies in sVNT and 4 of the 15 were confirmed to be positive via IFA. All tested samples were RT-qPCR-negative. The results support the hypotheses that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in horses and cattle in Switzerland was low up to the end of 2022.

Abstract

Horses and cattle have shown low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, and there is no evidence of experimental intraspecies transmission. Nonetheless, seropositive horses in the US and seropositive cattle in Germany and Italy have been reported. The current study investigated the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in horses and cattle in Switzerland. In total, 1940 serum and plasma samples from 1110 horses and 830 cattle were screened with a species-specific ELISA based on the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and, in the case of suspect positive results, a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT) was used to demonstrate the neutralizing activity of the antibodies. Further confirmation of suspect positive samples was performed using either a pseudotype-based virus neutralization assay (PVNA; horses) or an indirect immunofluorescence test (IFA; cattle). The animals were sampled between February 2020 and December 2022. Additionally, in total, 486 bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), oropharyngeal, nasal and rectal swab samples from horses and cattle were analyzed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA via reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Six horses (0.5%; 95% CI: 0.2–1.2%) were suspect positive via RBD-ELISA, and neutralizing antibodies were detected in two of them via confirmatory sVNT and PVNA tests. In the PVNA, the highest titers were measured against the Alpha and Delta SARS-CoV-2 variants. Fifteen cattle (1.8%; 95% CI: 1.0–3.0%) were suspect positive in RBD-ELISA; 3 of them had SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibodies in sVNT and 4 of the 15 were confirmed to be positive via IFA. All tested samples were RT-qPCR-negative. The results support the hypotheses that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in horses and cattle in Switzerland was low up to the end of 2022.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Equine Department
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Center for Clinical Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
630 Agriculture
570 Life sciences; biology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Virology, Infectious Diseases
Language:English
Date:31 January 2024
Deposited On:03 Feb 2024 15:41
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:1999-4915
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/v16020224
PubMed ID:38400000
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)