SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing serum antibodies in cats: a serological investigation

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SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing serum antibodies in cats: a serological investigation

Published 20 April 2020

Zhang, Q. et al. (2020) SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing serum antibodies in cats: a serological investigation bioRxiv https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.01.021196

This paper reports on the serological prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in a sample of cats in Wuhan, China.

In this study, 39 banked sera collected from cats before the outbreak (March to May 2019) and 102 samples collected from cats in animal shelters and veterinary clinics in Wuhan from January to March 2020 (i.e. during the COVID-19 outbreak) were screened by indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibody reactivity against recombinant RBD of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

15 (14.7%) of the samples collected from January to March 2020 were positive for RBD-based ELISA and 11 of these then showed neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 when tested by virus neutralization tests. The cats with the highest titres belonged to people with confirmed COVID-19. While it may not be surprising that cats in contact with owners infected with COVID-19 can become infected, it is interesting that a number of other cats also mounted some degree of immune response.

It was also noted that both type I and II feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) hyperimmune sera showed no cross-reactivity withSARS-CoV-2 RBD protein.

While this study provides some preliminary evidence that cats can become infected, and mount an immune response raising an antibody response to SARS-CoV-2, it did not give any information on whether the cats are able to pass on the virus.

It should also be noted that this is a preliminary report published on bioRxiv and has not yet been subject to peer review.

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