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First Description of Serological Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in Lactating Cows

Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Naples Federico II, 80137 Naples, Italy
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Portici, 80055 Naples, Italy
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Mezzogiorno, Portici, 80055 Naples, Italy
Azienda Sanitaria Locale Avellino (Ariano Irpino), 83031 Avellino, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sanjay Rathod
Animals 2022, 12(11), 1459;
Received: 9 May 2022 / Revised: 26 May 2022 / Accepted: 2 June 2022 / Published: 4 June 2022
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the agent of the disease that has caused a global pandemic, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Coronaviruses (CoVs) may emerge from wildlife hosts and infect humans and animals. Up to now, natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in several animals, but it has not been found in farm animals, such as buffaloes, goats, sheep, horses, rabbits, hens, pigs, or cows, despite contact with their SARS-CoV-2-positive human breeders. Furthermore, a low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in experimentally infected cattle with SARS-CoV-2. The unknown zoonotic potential of this virus is a cause of concern for pet owners and farmers. The limited data on cattle suggest that cattle show low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and probably do not function as reservoirs. However, in areas with large cattle populations and a high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans, close contact between livestock and farmworkers may cause reverse zoonotic infections in cattle, as has already been described for highly sensitive animal species, such as minks, cats, and dogs. Thus, studying the zoonotic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 could help in the development of a strategy for virus detection and the control of viral dissemination.
Following the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak in Ariano Irpino, Campania region (Italy), we tested lactating cows for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on a cattle farm at which, prior to the investigation, 13 of the 20 farmworkers showed COVID-19-like symptoms, and one of them died. Twenty-four lactating cows were sampled to detect SARS-CoV-2. All nasal and rectal swabs and milk samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Of the 24 collected serum samples, 11 showed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein, 14 showed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and 13 developed neutralising antibodies for SARS-COV-2; all samples were negative for Bovine Coronavirus (BCoV), another betacoronavirus. To our knowledge, this is the first report of natural serological evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in lactating cows. We hypothesise that this may be a case of reverse zoonosis. However, the role of cattle in SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission seems to be negligible. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; cattle; serology; COVID-19; farmworkers; reverse zoonosis SARS-CoV-2; cattle; serology; COVID-19; farmworkers; reverse zoonosis
MDPI and ACS Style

Fiorito, F.; Iovane, V.; Pagnini, U.; Cerracchio, C.; Brandi, S.; Levante, M.; Marati, L.; Ferrara, G.; Tammaro, V.; De Carlo, E.; Iovane, G.; Fusco, G. First Description of Serological Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in Lactating Cows. Animals 2022, 12, 1459.

AMA Style

Fiorito F, Iovane V, Pagnini U, Cerracchio C, Brandi S, Levante M, Marati L, Ferrara G, Tammaro V, De Carlo E, Iovane G, Fusco G. First Description of Serological Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in Lactating Cows. Animals. 2022; 12(11):1459.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fiorito, Filomena, Valentina Iovane, Ugo Pagnini, Claudia Cerracchio, Sergio Brandi, Martina Levante, Luisa Marati, Gianmarco Ferrara, Virginio Tammaro, Esterina De Carlo, Giuseppe Iovane, and Giovanna Fusco. 2022. "First Description of Serological Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in Lactating Cows" Animals 12, no. 11: 1459.

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