Molecular surveillance of potential SARS-CoV-2 reservoir hosts in wildlife rehabilitation centers

Juan Mena, Christian Hidalgo, Daniela Estay-Olea, Nicole Sallaberry-Pincheira, Antonella Bacigalupo, André V. Rubio, Diego Peñaloza, Carolina Sánchez, Javiera Gómez-Adaros, Valeria Olmos, Javier Cabello, Kendra Ivelic, María José Abarca, Diego Ramírez-Álvarez, Marisol Torregrosa Rocabado, Natalia Durán Castro, Martina Carreño, Gabriela Gómez, Pedro E. Cattan, Galia Ramírez-TolozaSofía Robbiano, Carla Marchese, Eduardo Raffo, Paulina Stowhas, Gonzalo Medina-Vogel, Carlos Landaeta-Aqueveque, René Ortega, Etienne Waleckx, Daniel Gónzalez-Acuña, Gemma Rojo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection, has become the most devastating zoonotic event in recent times, with negative impacts on both human and animal welfare as well as on the global economy. Although SARS-CoV-2 is considered a human virus, it likely emerged from animals, and it can infect both domestic and wild animals. This constitutes a risk for human and animal health including wildlife with evidence of SARS-CoV-2 horizontal transmission back and forth between humans and wild animals. AIM: Molecular surveillance in different wildlife rehabilitation centers and wildlife associated institutions in Chile, which are critical points of animal-human interaction and wildlife conservation, especially since the aim of wildlife rehabilitation centers is to reintroduce animals to their original habitat. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The survey was conducted in six WRCs and three wildlife associated institutions. A total of 185 samples were obtained from 83 individuals belonging to 15 different species, including vulnerable and endangered species. Each specimen was sampled with two different swabs: one oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal according to the nostril diameter, and/or a second rectal sample. RNA was extracted from the samples and two different molecular assays were performed: first, a conventional RT-PCR with pan-coronavirus primers and a second SARS-CoV-2 qPCR targeting the N and S genes. RESULTS: All 185 samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This study constitutes the first report on the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 from wildlife treated in rehabilitation centers in Chile, and supports the biosafety procedures adopted in those centers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalThe veterinary quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Chile
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • wildlife conservation
  • wildlife rehabilitation centers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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