Serological evidence of SARS-CoV-2 and co-infections in stray cats in Spain.

S. Villanueva-Saz, J. Giner, A. Tobajas, M.D. Pérez, Andrés Manuel González-Ramírez, Javier Macías-León, A. González, M. Verde, A. Basurco, A. Yzuel, Ramón Hurtado-Guerrero, J. Pardo, LLipsy, J. Paño, H. Ruíz, D. Lacasta, L. Sánchez, A. Fernández.. Serological evidence of SARS-CoV-2 and co-infections in stray cats in Spain. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 2021. PMID: 33686768 DOI: 10.1111/tbed.14062

A new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan in 2019 and spread rapidly to the rest of the world causing the pandemic disease named coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). Little information is known about the impact this virus can cause upon domestic and stray animals. The potential impact of SARS-CoV-2 has become of great interest in cats due to transmission among domestic cats and the severe phenotypes described recently in a domestic cat. In this context, there is a public health warning that needs to be investigated in relation with the epidemiological role of this virus in stray cats. Consequently, in order to know the impact of the possible transmission chain, blood samples were obtained from 114 stray cats in the city of Zaragoza (Spain) and tested for SARS-CoV-2 and other selected pathogens susceptible to immunosuppression including Toxoplasma gondii, Leishmania infantum, feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) from January to October 2020. Four cats (3.51%), based on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using the receptor binding domain (RBD) of Spike antigen, were seroreactive to SARS-CoV-2. T. gondii, L. infantum, FeLV and FIV seroprevalence was 12.28%, 16.67%, 4.39% and 19.30%, respectively. Among seropositive cats to SARS-CoV-2, three cats were also seropositive to other pathogens including antibodies detected against T. gondii and FIV (n = 1); T. gondii (n = 1); and FIV and L. infantum (n = 1). The subjects giving positive for SARS-CoV-2 were captured in urban areas of the city in different months: January 2020 (2/4), February 2020 (1/4) and July 2020 (1/4). This study revealed, for the first time, the exposure of stray cats to SARS-CoV-2 in Spain and the existence of concomitant infections with other pathogens including T. gondii, L. infantum and FIV, suggesting that immunosuppressed animals might be especially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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