A preliminary vaccination trial against the emergent pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, was completed in captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes; BFF) to assess safety, immunogenicity, and anti-viral efficacy. Vaccination and boosting of 15 BFF with purified SARS-CoV-2 S1 subunit protein produced a nearly 150-fold increase in mean antibody titers compared to pre-vaccination titers. Serum antibody responses were highest in young animals, but in all vaccinees, antibody response declined rapidly. Anti-viral activity from vaccinated and unvaccinated BFF was determined in vitro, as well as in vivo with a passive serum transfer study in mice. Transgenic mice that received BFF serum transfers and were subsequently challenged with SARS-CoV-2 had lung viral loads that negatively correlated (p < 0.05) with the BFF serum titer received. Lastly, an experimental challenge study in a small group of BFF was completed to test susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. Despite viral replication and shedding in the upper respiratory tract for up to 7 days post-challenge, no clinical disease was observed in either vaccinated or naive animals. The lack of morbidity or mortality observed indicates SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to affect wild BFF populations, but infected captive animals pose a potential risk, albeit low, for humans and other animals.
|Title||Immunogenicity, safety, and anti-viral efficacy of a subunit SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate in captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) and their susceptibility to viral challenge|
|Authors||Ariel Elizabeth Leon, Della Garelle, Airn Hartwig, Elizabeth Falendysz, Hon S. Ip, Julia S. Lankton, Tyler Tretten, Terry Spraker, Richard Bowen, Tonie E. Rocke|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Wildlife Health Center|