Study indicates that deer infected with the Covid virus can harbor the virus and infect humans

Besides saving lives right now, another key reason why public health officials have collectively lobbied vaccination The slowing of the spread of COVID-19 is because the longer a virus resides in a number of hosts, the more likely it is to mutate into something more virulent. This has apparently happened at least twice so far with SARS-CoV-2: first with a highly contagious virus. delta variablelater with Even Omicron is the most contagious variant.

Currently, the number of human hosts in the United States is declining because The omicron wave drops from its peak. If we’re lucky, it could mean that this wave of infections is over and the coronavirus will continue to spread (and mutate) when it becomes endemicit will have fewer hosts to do so.

or at least Human hosts. As we know, SARS-CoV-2 appears to have spread in Bats and pangolins before Transition to humans. We also know that the virus has spread again in animals, probably via humans: dogAnd the the catsAnd the zoo lionAnd the A large number of deer It appears to have been infected by humans.

Unfortunately, the infection trend can now go the other way. a recent canadian studies This raises the possibility that deer – one of the most common large mammals in North America – could have infected humans with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. This could mean that the virus circulated for a time in deer, where it reproduced and sometimes mutated along the way, before returning to humans.

Related: From deer and dogs to mice and mink, COVID-19 has spread to the animal world

The new study provides evidence that deer may have infected humans, although this has not been definitively proven. Conducted by more than 20 scientists in Ontario and published in the bioRxiv database (not yet peer-reviewed), the study looked at 300 samples from white-tailed deer in Canada during the last months of 2021. Seventeen were tested. SARS-CoV-2, they were all from southwestern Ontario. Scientists found that this same strain of SARS-CoV-2, which is very different from other known strains, was also very similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was infecting humans. (It was also closely related to a strain found in humans in Michigan in the late 2020s.) Although scientists cannot confirm that the virus was transmitted to humans via deer, they do know that humans live in the same geographical area as the deer and have been in close contact with deer during the same period in which the infected samples were taken.

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However, the sample size is very small and no one has it. Permanently He proved that deer transmitted the virus to humans. There is also no evidence that a person infected with the mutated SARS-CoV-2 virus transmitted it to another person, and preliminary experiments indicate that the new virus will not be able to escape antibodies. In other words, if it spreads between people, vaccinated people are likely to be safe.

Finally, as the deer-based SARS-CoV-2 virus is unknown, there is still no reason to believe that it poses an increased risk to humans. The biggest concern is that since viruses can evolve in animals, there is a chance that they will turn into something more serious.

Samira Mbarka, virologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and University of Toronto and author of the new paper: “The virus evolves in deer and branches out in deer, a far cry from what we clearly see evolving in humans.” He told the New York Times,. After sequencing the complete genomes of five affected deer, scientists discovered several mutations that had not been previously documented. They also found 76 mutations that identify the new version of SARS-CoV-2 from the original version of the virus. Some of these mutations have already been detected in other infected animals, such as mink.

Shortly before this study was published, a separate group of scientists announce that the red deer may have persisted with the alpha variant even after its disappearance from humans – and that it evolved in them as they continued to spread it. This raises concerns about the incubation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in deer.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is believe I grew up on a horseshoe bat. At one point, the virus is thought to have passed to another animal through one or more “thorns” and eventually found a human host. the famous bat Serve as a host for dangerous coronaviruses because their immune system is exceptionally aggressive. This means that the viruses that live in bats have to evolve and multiply faster to survive.

“The bottom line is that bats can be special when it comes to harboring viruses,” Mike Potts, disease ecologist and professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, told Science Daily in 2020. Coming from bats. Even bats are not closely related to us, so we don’t expect them to harbor many human viruses. But this work shows how the bat’s immune system can drive virulence that overcomes that. “

To learn more about animals and the COVID-19 virus, read:

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