Location: Infectious Bacterial Diseases ResearchTitle: SARS-CoV-2: Experimental studies on deer-to-deer transmission
|MARTINS, MATHIAS - Cornell University - New York|
|CASERTA, LEONARDO - Cornell University - New York|
|MITCHELL, PATRICK - Cornell University - New York|
|WAGNER, BETTINA - Cornell University - New York|
|DIEL, DIEGO - Cornell University - New York|
|FERNANDES, MAUREEN - Cornell University - New York|
Submitted to: United States Animal Health Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/22/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Given the presumed zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2, the human-animal-environment interface of the COVID-19 pandemic is an area of great scientific and public- and animal-health interest. Identification of animal species that are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 may help to elucidate the potential origin of the virus, identify potential reservoirs or intermediate hosts and define the mechanisms underlying cross-species transmission to humans. Our data show that upon intranasal inoculation, white-tailed deer became subclinically infected and shed infectious SARS-CoV-2 in nasal secretions and on rectal swabs. Importantly, contact animals were infected and shed infectious virus, indicating efficient SARS-CoV-2 transmission from inoculated animals. Wild cervids should be considered as potential reservoirs or sources of SARS-CoV-2 of infection.
Technical Abstract: The origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing the global coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, remains a mystery. Understanding the host range and identifying animal species that are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection may help elucidate the origin of the virus and the mechanisms underlying cross-species transmission to humans. Here we showed that white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), an animal species in which the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) – the SARS-CoV-2 receptor – shares a high degree of similarity to humans, are highly susceptible to infection. Intranasal inoculation of deer fawns with SARS-CoV-2 resulted in established subclinical viral infection and shedding of infectious virus in nasal secretions. Notably, infected animals transmitted the virus to non-inoculated contact deer. Viral RNA was detected in multiple tissues 21 days post inoculation. All inoculated and contact animals seroconverted and developed neutralizing antibodies as early as day 7 post inoculation. Whole genome sequence analysis of SARS-CoV-2 shed in nasal secretions of inoculated and contact animals revealed genomic changes suggestive of virus adaptation over time. The work provides important insights into the animal host range of SARS-CoV-2, and identifies white-tailed deer as a susceptible wild animal species to the virus.