Experimental infection of cattle with SARS-CoV-2

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Experimental infection of cattle with SARS-CoV-2

Published 25 November 2020 | Updated 14 June 2021

Ulrich, L. et al. (2020) Experimental infection of cattle with SARS-CoV-2. Emerging Infectious Diseases,26 (12), pp. 2979-2981.  https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2612.203799.

This paper reports on an experimental study designed to examine the susceptibility of cattle to SARS-CoV-2 and to characterize the course of infection under experimental conditions. Six 4-5 months old cattle (Bos taurus) were intranasally inoculated with SARS-CoV-2. 24 hours after inoculation three contact cattle, that were separated prior to infection, were re-introduced. Body temperature and clinical signs were monitored daily and nasal, oral and rectal swabs were taken on days -1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 20, and blood samples on days −1, 6, 12 and 20 after infection.

All animals tested negative for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in swab samples and SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies in serum prior to infection. None of the inoculated cattle, nor any of the contact animals, showed any clinical disease-related symptoms. However, low-level virus replication and a specific sera-reactivity were observed in two inoculated animals, despite the presence of high antibody titres against a bovine beta-coronavirus. The in-contact animals did not become infected.

The authors conclude that under experimental conditions cattle show low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. However, they add that there is no indication that cattle play any role in the human pandemic nor are there reports of naturally infected bovines.

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