SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), the novel zoonotic coronavirus, is believed to have originated from bats in China that subsequently leading to a human pandemic. Whether SARS-CoV-2 can also infect other animal species is being investigated by various research institutes worldwide. The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) in Germany, a member of the global network of OIE Reference Centres, started infection studies in pigs, chickens, fruit bats, and ferrets several weeks ago. First results show that fruit bats and ferrets are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, whereas pigs and chickens are not.

Farm animals in particular are in close contact with humans. Therefore, pigs and chickens have been tested for susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. It was examined whether the animals become infected, the pathogen replicates and the animals show symptoms of disease. It was also tested whether they excrete the pathogen and thus pose a potential risk to human health. Under experimental conditions, neither pigs nor chickens were found to be susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2. According to the current state of knowledge, they are not affected by the virus and therefore do not pose a potential risk to human health.

The FLI press release can be read here.

As Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut addresses farm animal health and welfare. The work aims at the prevention, diagnostics and control of animal diseases, the improvement of animal welfare and animal nutrition as well as the preservation and use of farm animal genetic resources.