The CoVERS study seeks to understand SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission between humans and animals. The study is run by the Runstadler Lab at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. We are rolling out core projects to rapidly respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on three areas with unique human interfaces: domestic pets, agricultural/farm species and wildlife species.
In domestic animals, humans and animals frequently interact, offering insights into if and how the virus can jump between species. Agricultural/farm animals are important for economic and food security, and often share significant inter-species interaction and will help us understand how transmissible the virus is between animals if it gets into the population. We are also concerned about the potential for natural transmission into wildlife species that could establish regional reservoirs and prolong the pandemic or harm threatened and endangered species.
How common is human-to-animal transmission?
CoVERS seeks to understand if spread from humans to animals is a common or very rare event in household settings. Households offer a unique place to investigate this given the daily contact between owners and animals in the same living quarters. Animal owners will be recruited to join one of two studies to investigate the potential for human to animal spread within the home. These two-week studies will allow us to study in detail the rate of human to animal transmission, conditions that facilitate transmission, and gain insights into duration of viral presence and clinical symptom presence and severity.
Participants are eligible if:
a) they own one or more mammalian species (e.g. cat, ferret, dog, pig, cow) and
b) they live in the New England region of the US
The general public and Tufts veterinary clients are welcome to participate. Participants will be enrolled online and sent supplies and instructions for swabbing their animal/s. Participants will be asked to collect swabs every two days for 14 days (7 samples total) and keep a diary of any symptoms shown by their animal. We will organize shipping/collection of samples for immediate testing in our lab. If you are interested to collect samples from animals in your home, please consider joining the study!
Paired animal & human household study (click here)
Participants are eligible if:
a) they own one or more mammalian species (e.g. cat, ferret, dog, pig, cow), and
b) they live in the New England region of the US, and
c) they or their animal have recently tested positive or show symptoms of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19
The general public and Tufts veterinary clients are welcome to participate. Participants will be enrolled online and sent supplies and instructions for swabbing both themselves and their animal/s. Participants will also be asked to collect paired swabs every two days for 14 days (14 samples total) and keep a diary of any symptoms. We will organize shipping/collection of samples for immediate testing in our lab. We will provide a link to interest forms when this study is open. Stay tuned!
Which animals can get SARS-CoV-2?
CoVERS has begun rapid response surveillance of animals being seen for emergency care at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, including patients of the Henry & Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals, the Hospital for Large Animals, Tufts at Tech community veterinary clinic, and the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic. All pets, domestic and farm species are welcome! Owners can join the study during a visit to the clinic and veterinary personnel will collect nasal and oral swabs from their animals. The swabbing is quick and harmless and samples will be tested in near real-time in our lab. These results are research-grade only and cannot be used for clinical diagnosis. This study will give us a better understanding of which pets, companion or farm species can be infected with SARS-CoV-2. If your animal is a patient at Tufts Veterinary facilities, please consider joining the study!
Can SARS-CoV-2 infect and spread among livestock?
Livestock are hugely important in world food security. CoVERS is now monitoring livestock including cattle, sheep, goats and swine to understand if these commercially important species can get the SARS-CoV-2. If livestock are susceptible to the virus, we want to learn if infection makes them sick and if SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted at large-scale within herds. If you are a livestock owner and interested in participating in this study, please consider joining the study by sending us an e-mail!
Can SARS-CoV-2 infect and spread among wildlife?
As a wildlife surveillance lab, we are especially interested in understanding if wildlife species are at risk. To evaluate the risk of natural transmission into species of concern, we are actively recruiting State Fish and Wildlife officials and wildlife rehabilitators of mammalian species, especially bats and mustelids for ongoing surveillance of animals and caretakers in these close human-wildlife spaces. If you are a licensed rehabilitator or wildlife official and would like to learn more or join the study, please send us an email.