Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) exposure in pet cats and dogs in Minnesota, USA

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is continuing to spread globally. SARS-CoV-2 infections of feline and canine species have also been reported. However, it is not entirely clear to what extent natural SARS-CoV-2 infection of pet dogs and cats is in households. We have developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using recombinant SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein and the receptor-binding-domain (RBD) of the spike protein, and the SARS-CoV-2 spike-pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based neutralization assay to screen serum samples of 239 pet cats and 510 pet dogs in Minnesota in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-April to early June 2020 for evidence of SARS-CoV-2 exposures. A cutoff value was used to identify the seropositive samples in each experiment. The average seroprevalence of N- and RBD-specific antibodies in pet cats were 8% and 3%, respectively. Among nineteen (19) N-seropositive cat sera, fifteen (15) exhibited neutralizing activity and seven (7) were also RBD-seropositive. The N-based ELISA is also specific and does not cross react with antigens of common feline coronaviruses. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected at a very low percentage in pet dogs (~ 1%) and were limited to IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 N protein with no neutralizing activities. Our results demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 seropositive rates are higher in pet cats than in pet dogs in MN early in the pandemic and that SARS-CoV-2 N-specific IgG antibodies can detect SARS-CoV-2 infections in companion animals with higher levels of specificity and sensitivity than RBD-specific IgG antibodies in ELISA-based assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1597-1609
Number of pages13
JournalVirulence
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank A. Rendahl (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) for providing statistical support that includes determining the confidence interval (CI) of the seropositive rates. We also thank T. Hatziioannou and P. Bieniasz (Rockefeller University) for providing the pSARS-CoV-2?19 plasmid and the 293T/ACE2(B) stable cells, Y. Wan and F. Li for providing the recombinant SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein, S. Paessler (UTMB) for providing the replication-defective rVSV?G/Fluc virus, M. Jenkins (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) for providing the recombinant human monoclonal antibody CR3022, L. Martinez-Sobrido (Texas Biomedical Research Institute) for providing the mouse monoclonal antibody 1C7C7, and K. Little, T. Ruska, and L. Kranz (MN Veterinary Clinical Pathology Laboratory) for collecting and preparing discarded serum samples from pets for this study. This work was supported in part by seed funds from the University of Minnesota Office of Clinical and Academic Affairs? COVID-19 rapid response mechanism to Y.L., H.L., M.D., D.D., and Q.H.

Funding Information:
We thank A. Rendahl (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) for providing statistical support that includes determining the confidence interval (CI) of the seropositive rates. We also thank T. Hatziioannou and P. Bieniasz (Rockefeller University) for providing the pSARS-CoV-2Δ19 plasmid and the 293T/ACE2(B) stable cells, Y. Wan and F. Li for providing the recombinant SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein, S. Paessler (UTMB) for providing the replication-defective rVSVΔG/Fluc virus, M. Jenkins (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) for providing the recombinant human monoclonal antibody CR3022, L. Martinez-Sobrido (Texas Biomedical Research Institute) for providing the mouse monoclonal antibody 1C7C7, and K. Little, T. Ruska, and L. Kranz (MN Veterinary Clinical Pathology Laboratory) for collecting and preparing discarded serum samples from pets for this study. This work was supported in part by seed funds from the University of Minnesota Office of Clinical and Academic Affairs’ COVID-19 rapid response mechanism to Y.L., H.L., M.D., D.D., and Q.H.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Elisa
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • cat
  • dog
  • feline coronaviruses
  • neutralization antibodies
  • seroprevalence
  • zoonoses

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