Date of this Version
Bosco-Lauth, A.M.; Porter, S.M.; Fox, K.A.; Wood, M.E.; Neubaum, D.; Quilici, M. Experimental Infection of Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) with Two Strains of SARS-CoV-2. Viruses 2022, 14, 1809. https:// doi.org/10.3390/v14081809
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is presumed to have originated from wildlife and shares homology with other bat coronaviruses. Determining the susceptibility of North American bat species to SARS-CoV-2 is of utmost importance for making decisions regarding wildlife management, public health, and conservation. In this study, Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) were experimentally infected with two strains of SARS-CoV-2 (parental WA01 and Delta variant), evaluated for clinical disease, sampled for viral shedding and antibody production, and analyzed for pathology. None of the bats (n = 18) developed clinical disease associated with infection, shed infectious virus, or developed histopathological lesions associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. All bats had low levels of viral RNA in oral swabs, six bats had low levels of viral RNA present in the lungs during acute infection, and one of the four bats that were maintained until 28 days post-infection developed a neutralizing antibody response. These findings suggest that Brazilian free-tailed bats are permissive to infection by SARS-CoV-2, but they are unlikely to contribute to environmental maintenance or transmission.
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