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Experimental infection of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) with SARS-CoV-2

January 4, 2023
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is thought to have originated in wild bats from Asia, and as the resulting pandemic continues into its third year, concerns have been raised that the virus will expand its host range and infect North American wildlife species, including bats. Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) live in large colonies in the southern United States, often in urban areas and, as such, could be exposed to the virus from infected humans. We experimentally challenged wild T. brasiliensis with SARS-CoV-2 to determine the susceptibility, reservoir potential, and population impacts of infection in this species. Of 10 bats oronasally inoculated with SARS-CoV-2, 5 became infected and orally excreted moderate amounts of virus for up to 18 days postinoculation. These five subjects all seroconverted and cleared the virus before the end of the study with no obvious clinical signs of disease. We additionally found no evidence of viral transmission to uninoculated subjects. These results indicate that while T. brasiliensis are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, infection of wild populations of T. brasiliensis would not likely cause mortality. However, the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from T. brasiliensis to or from humans, or to other animal species, is a possibility requiring further investigation to better define.
Publication Year 2023
Title Experimental infection of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) with SARS-CoV-2
DOI 10.1128/msphere.00263-22
Authors Jeffrey S. Hall, Erik K. Hofmeister, Hon S. Ip, Sean Nashold, Ariel Elizabeth Leon, Carly Marie Malave, Elizabeth Falendysz, Tonie E. Rocke, M. Carossino, U. Balasuriya, Susan Knowles
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title mSphere
Index ID 70239827
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center