SARS virus infection of cats and ferrets

There is now a choice of animal models for testing therapies against the human virus.


The reservoir of the coronavirus isolated from patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)1,2 is still unknown, but is suspected to have been a wild animal species. Here we show that ferrets (Mustela furo) and domestic cats (Felis domesticus) are susceptible to infection by SARS coronavirus (SCV) and that they can efficiently transmit the virus to previously uninfected animals that are housed with them. The observation that these two distantly related carnivores can so easily be infected with the virus indicates that the reservoir for this pathogen may involve a range of animal species.

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Figure 1: Daily excretion of SARS coronavirus (SCV) in ferrets and domestic cats after inoculation with the virus or exposure to infected animals.


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Correspondence to Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Martina, B., Haagmans, B., Kuiken, T. et al. SARS virus infection of cats and ferrets. Nature 425, 915 (2003).

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