rapid review of evidence of infection of pets and livestock

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A a rapid review of evidence of infection of pets and livestock with human-associated coronavirus diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and evidence of the fomite potential of pets and livestock

Published 20 April 2020 | Updated 1 May 2020

O’Connor, A.M, Totton, S.C. and Sargeant, J.M. (2020) SYREAF [Systematic Reviews for Animals and Food]: a rapid review of evidence of infection of pets and livestock with human-associated coronavirus diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and evidence of the fomite potential of pets and livestock [online] Available at: http://www.syreaf.org/covid-19-and-animals/ [Accessed 30 April 2020]

The review looked at the evidence available to answer two questions

Question 1: “What is the evidence that domestic animals (cats, ferrets, dogs, swine, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, horses) can be infected with, or shed, the human-associated coronaviruses SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, which are associated with the diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, respectively?”

Question 2: “What is the evidence that domestic animals (cats, ferrets, dogs, swine, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, horses) can act as a fomite for the human-associated coronaviruses SARS-CoV, MERS- CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, which are associated with the diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, respectively?

The review includes case studies and early experimental and epidemiological studies as well as studies of related coronaviruses (SARS and MERS).

They concluded that from the evidence reviewed (to 29th April 2020):

  • All reported cases where the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been detected in cats or dogs have been living in close quarters with SARS-CoV-2 infected owners. Two cats and two dogs have been reported to have SARS-CoV-2 virus detected by PCR.
  • Fifteen of 102 cats in Wuhan China have been reported as positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.
  • No cases of cat- or dog-to-human transmission have been reported. Two SARS-CoV-2 seeder challenge studies have reported no transmission to contact pigs, chickens or ducks.
  • In a survey of 12 dogs and nine cats living in close contact with 20 veterinary students (including 2 confirmed and 11 suspected COVID-19 patients) all animals were negative for antibodies and PCR to SARS-CoV-2.
  • One study showed that SARS-CoV can survive on room temperature pig skin for >24h. No other studies were found that evaluated fur, hair, skin, feathers, or hides as a source of transmission from domestic animals for SARS, MERS, or SARS-CoV-2.

The authors acknowledge that there are many questions unanswered and state that they see this as a living review which will be updated as new evidence becomes available.

It should be noted that while this is described as a “systematic review”, this review of the published literature was undertaken rapidly in response to the current pandemic and has not been peer-reviewed.

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