Real-Time Sequencing and Bioinformatics of SARS-COV2 from Positive Animal Samples at the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

lab technician looking through microscope with illustration of coronavirus overlay

A recent study reported that ferrets and cats are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This study highlighted that surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as an adjunct to elimination of COVID-19 in humans. According to the National Pet Owners 2019-20 survey, 67% of U.S. households or approximately 85 million families own a pet.

Led by Sunil Mor, PhD, assistant professor, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, researchers in this study will develop a diagnostic test using RT-qPCR assays to detect SARS-CoV-2 in animals.

“The sequencing of positive samples from pets will be extremely important to see the genetic makeup of this virus in pets and to compare with that of human SARS-CoV-2,” said Mor. “Some samples may have low level of infection so concentration of viral particles will be helpful for complete genome sequencing. Hence, the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will optimize a protocol for same day sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 from animal samples tested positive by PCR.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.