The potential for animals to reinfect humans with new viral variants ofCovid-19 has been documented in new research.
The research, conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesof the United States of America (PNAS), illustrates the potential for“spillback” from animal hosts to humans.
Given that humans move globally and regularly come into contact with domesticand peri domestic animals there is an incidental risk of exposure topotentially susceptible nonhuman species.
The ability for “reverse zoonosis” was demonstrated with the transmission ofCovid-19 from humans to mink, followed by a selection of mink and zoonotictransmissions back to humans.
“Given that reverse zoonosis has been reported repeatedly in dogs and catsfrom households where COVID-19 patients reside, and the fact that up to 50 percent of households worldwide are inhabited by these companion animals, thereis potential for similar transmission chains to arise via humans and theirpets.”
With the virus likely originating from a viral spillover into humans from ananimal reservoir, the potential for humans to reinfect animals is plausible.
Previous research has shown high levels of seroconversion in cats, dogs, andfree-ranging deer, illustrating that cross-species transmission chains arereadily achieved.
“The repeated interspecies transmission of a virus presents the potential forthe acceleration of viral evolution and a possible source of novel strainemergence.”
The research said that understanding the viral selection and species-specificadaption of Covid-19 in companion animals is of high interest.
“Documenting viral evolution following the spillover of SARS-COV-2 into newspecies is difficult given the unpredictability of timing of these events;therefore, experimental studies can greatly aid the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 evolution in animal species.”
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