SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted via contact and via the air between ferrets

Nat Commun. 2020 Jul 8;11(1):3496. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17367-2.


SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that emerged in late 2019, has spread rapidly worldwide, and information about the modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among humans is critical to apply appropriate infection control measures and to slow its spread. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted efficiently via direct contact and via the air (via respiratory droplets and/or aerosols) between ferrets, 1 to 3 days and 3 to 7 days after exposure respectively. The pattern of virus shedding in the direct contact and indirect recipient ferrets is similar to that of the inoculated ferrets and infectious virus is isolated from all positive animals, showing that ferrets are productively infected via either route. This study provides experimental evidence of robust transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via the air, supporting the implementation of community-level social distancing measures currently applied in many countries in the world and informing decisions on infection control measures in healthcare settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Betacoronavirus / genetics
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • Betacoronavirus / physiology*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ferrets
  • Genome, Viral / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology*
  • Rectum / virology
  • Respiratory System / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Virus Shedding


  • Antibodies, Viral