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Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5680, 2022 04 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1931430


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the infectious disease COVID-19, which has rapidly become an international pandemic with significant impact on healthcare systems and the global economy. To assist antiviral therapy and vaccine development efforts, we performed a natural history/time course study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in ferrets to characterise and assess the suitability of this animal model. Ten ferrets of each sex were challenged intranasally with 4.64 × 104 TCID50 of SARS-CoV-2 isolate Australia/VIC01/2020 and monitored for clinical disease signs, viral shedding, and tissues collected post-mortem for histopathological and virological assessment at set intervals. We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicated in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets with consistent viral shedding in nasal wash samples and oral swab samples up until day 9. Infectious SARS-CoV-2 was recovered from nasal washes, oral swabs, nasal turbinates, pharynx, and olfactory bulb samples within 3-7 days post-challenge; however, only viral RNA was detected by qRT-PCR in samples collected from the trachea, lung, and parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Viral antigen was seen exclusively in nasal epithelium and associated sloughed cells and draining lymph nodes upon immunohistochemical staining. Due to the absence of clinical signs after viral challenge, our ferret model is appropriate for studying asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and most suitable for use in vaccine efficacy studies.

COVID-19 , Ferrets , Animals , Nasal Mucosa , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 69(2): 297-307, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1007329


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emerging virus that has caused significant human morbidity and mortality since its detection in late 2019. With the rapid emergence has come an unprecedented programme of vaccine development with at least 300 candidates under development. Ferrets have proven to be an appropriate animal model for testing safety and efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines due to quantifiable virus shedding in nasal washes and oral swabs. Here, we outline our efforts early in the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak to propagate and characterize an Australian isolate of the virus in vitro and in an ex vivo model of human airway epithelium, as well as to demonstrate the susceptibility of domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) to SARS-CoV-2 infection following intranasal challenge.

COVID-19 , Ferrets , Animals , Australia , COVID-19/veterinary , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2