CAN animals be a permanent reservoir of infection and a source of new mutations? – writes the Financial Times.
Two studies that showed a high rate of covid-19 in the wild deer population in the U.S. renewed concerns about the spread of the virus among animals. This month, findings about the crown appeared in pets and captive animals.
The Nebraska Zoo lost three rare snow leopards earlier this month due to illness. During the previous waves of infection, the populations of kuna on farms were killed due to the spread of covida-19 in Denmark and Spain. Both monkeys and lions became ill.
The Sars-Cov-2 virus causes little or no symptoms in most animals, but there are concerns about the possibility of a viral mutation and the transmission of the virus to humans. Also, the virus could endanger endangered species.
By the end of October, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) had recorded 598 cases of the Kovid epidemic in animals. The corona has affected 14 species in 30 countries. All cases involved animals in captivity, in close contact with humans. It is not known how widespread covid-19 is among wild animals due to lack of testing.
Deer population surveys in the U.S. are the first to show positive results on the crown. Scientists from the American Ministry of Agriculture discovered antibodies in as many as 40 percent of wild white-tailed deer, in four American federal states. It is also the most widespread species of deer in North America with about 30 million individuals. In another study, not yet published, the virus was detected by PCR testing in 80 percent of samples of the same species taken in Iowa.
These cases also call into question the origin of the virus. Sars-Cov-2 originates from bats and may have passed on to humans through an as yet unknown intermediary. The results of laboratory tests suggested that the virus can infect most mammals, although unlike the flu, it cannot be transmitted to birds. Susceptibility to the virus varies between species. Studies show that most domestic animals – pigs, cattle and sheep – are quite resistant to infection.
Cats, especially large species such as lions, tigers and leopards, appear to be more sensitive than dogs, said Ken Smith, a pathology professor in London. Although the only evidence of coronavirus transmission from animals to humans has been observed during an intense epidemic of infection among the marten population in Denmark, experts recommend that people should avoid contact with animals, including pets, while they show symptoms of kovid.
Crown vaccines are now also available for animals. U.S. zoos are vaccinating an increasing number of species with a vaccine developed specifically for animals. Zoetis, an animal health firm that originated from Pfizer, has developed a vaccine that can be adapted to a wide range of species. However, covid vaccines are generally not available for pets.
“Although research suggests that infected deer usually have no symptoms, the transmission of the disease among wild animals has a significant impact on human health,” said Grammy Shannon, a zoologist at the University of Wales. – The results have raised concerns that deer could be a Sars-Cov-2 reservoir, which could mean transmission to a large number of animals, but it is even more worrying that it could be transmitted to humans. And any re-infection could complicate our long-term efforts to combat the disease.
In order for new strains to emerge among animals, there is a permanent danger to humans. But the natural evolution of the virus so far gives a shred of optimism. The new mutations that appeared among the kuna population in November 2020 did not prove to be virulent in the human population. Variants of Sars-Cov-2 in the deer population were the same ones that were already circulating among humans.
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