Can pigs get COVID-19 and transmit the virus to humans?

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

This week we are sharing an update from the National Pork Board in relation to pigs, humans and COVID-19.

There is currently no evidence that pigs can become naturally infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) or transmit it to humans. There is no reliable research in the United States that would suggest the widespread distribution of the virus is affecting food animals. 

Previous research from Kansas State University (Meekins et al ., 2020) found pigs are unlikely to be significant carriers of COVID-19 and a newer study from the University of Manitoba suggests it is challenging to infect pigs with COVID-19, even with a very high dose in a laboratory setting. The Canadian study also found no evidence of viral shedding from the inoculated pigs, indicating they are unlikely to transmit the virus. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another. 

U.S. pork producers participate in the One Health initiative with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other animal and public health officials – a holistic approach to protecting the health and wellbeing of both the public and animals.

More information can be found in the following links:

David A. Meekins, Igor Morozov, Jessie D. Trujillo, Natasha N. Gaudreault, Dashzeveg Bold, Mariano Carossino, Bianca L. Artiaga, Sabarish V. Indran, Taeyong Kwon, Velmurugan Balaraman, Daniel W. Madden, Heinz Feldmann, Jamie Henningson, Wenjun Ma, Udeni B. R. Balasuriya & Juergen A. Richt (2020) Susceptibility of swine cells and domestic pigs to SARS-CoV-2, Emerging Microbes & Infections, 9:1, 2278-2288, DOI: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1831405

Leave a Reply