BREAKING NEWS
Source: SARS-CoV-2-Animals  Dec 24, 2021  6 months ago
More Animals And Wild Life Are Contracting SARS-CoV-2. Probability Of New Dangerous Recombinant Zoonotic Strains Emerging In 2022 Is Very Likely!
More Animals And Wild Life Are Contracting SARS-CoV-2. Probability Of New Dangerous Recombinant Zoonotic Strains Emerging In 2022 Is Very Likely!
Source: SARS-CoV-2-Animals  Dec 24, 2021  6 months ago
SARS-CoV-2-Animals: More case reports and studies are showing that various animals and even wild life are contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and this is not good news as these creatures could end up being reservoirs of the virus and even worse while in these animals, the virus could experience recombinant events involving other animal viruses and potentially create a new dangerous strain that could be passed back to humans via zoonotic transmissions. Even if this does not occur, mutations could still occur while in these animals and create a more concerning strain.

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Based on the current kinetics of the COVID-19 pandemic and looking at how fast the virus is spreading to all parts of the globe with very little monitoring of what is happening to the various animal species, the chances of events that was mentioned above occurring in 2022 are extremely high.
 
SARS-CoV-2 Infection Confirmed In A Canada Lynx At A Pennsylvania Zoo
 
The USDA’s or the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in a Canada lynx at a zoo in Pennsylvania.  This is the first Canada lynx confirmed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in America.
 
Specimen samples were taken from the lynx after it showed signs of infection including coughing and lethargy.
 
Although the USDA has previously announced each new species confirmed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States, moving forward, these cases will be posted on USDA’s website and a separate announcement will not be issued.  Confirmed cases in animals are posted at the USDA SARS-CoV-2 in Animals Dashboard. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/dashboards/tableau/sars-dashboard
 
The USDA will continue to closely monitor cases of the infection in animals, will complete surveillance for the virus in animals under the American Rescue Plan framework, and will report cases to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

To date, SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in several animal species worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.  At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended.  State, Tribal, local, and territorial animal health and public health officials will work with USDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make determinations about whether animals should be tested for SARS-CoV-2, using a One Health approach.
 
Humans with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact.  It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection.
 
For additional information about COVID-19 and animals and recommendations for pet owners and people who work around animals, visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fanimals%2Fpets-other-animals.html
 
Three SARS-CoV-2 Variants Detected in Wild Deer in 6 Ohio Locations In America.
 
Virologists and scientist are now worried that the wild deer could be SARS-CoV-2 virus reservoirs.
 
Researchers have detected infection by at least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in free-ranging white-tailed deer in six northeast Ohio locations.
 
A past research led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture had shown evidence of antibodies in wild deer. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.10.31.466677v2
 
However, this new SARS-CoV-2-Animals study published in the peer reviewed journal: Nature, details the first report of active COVID-19 infection in white-tailed deer supported by the growth of viral isolates in the lab, indicating researchers had recovered viable samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and not only its genetic traces. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04353-x
 
From genomic sequencing of the samples collected between January and March 2021, the study team determined that variants infecting wild deer matched strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that had been prevalent in Ohio COVID-19 patients at the time.
 
Sample collection occurred before the Delta variant was widespread, and that variant was not detected in these deer.
 
The study team is testing more samples to check for new variants as well as older variants, whose continued presence would suggest the virus can set up shop and survive in this species.
 
Senior author, Andrew Bowman, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at The Ohio State University told Thailand Medical News, “Importantly the fact that wild deer can become infected “leads toward the idea that we might actually have established a new maintenance host outside humans.”
 
He added, “Based on evidence from other studies, we knew they were being exposed in the wild and that in the lab we could infect them and the virus could transmit from deer to deer. Here, we’re saying that in the wild, they are infected. And if they can maintain it, we have a new potential source of SARS-CoV-2 coming in to humans. That would mean that beyond tracking what’s in people, we’ll need to know what’s in the deer, too.”
 
He warned, “It could complicate future mitigation and control plans for COVID-19.”
 
To date, a lot of unknowns remain ie. how the deer got infected, whether they can infect humans and other species, how the virus behaves in the animals’ body, and whether it’s a transient or long-term infection.
 
The study team took nasal swabs from 360 white-tailed deer in nine northeast Ohio locations. Using PCR testing methods, the scientists detected genetic material from at least three different strains of the virus in 129 (35.8%) of the deer sampled.
 
The detailed analysis showed that B.1.2 viruses dominant in Ohio in the early months of 2021 spilled over multiple times into deer populations in different locations.
 
Bowman added, “The working theory based on our sequences is that humans are giving it to deer, and apparently we gave it to them several times. We have evidence of six different viral introductions into those deer populations. It’s not that a single population got it once and it spread.”
 
Every site was sampled between one and three times, adding up to a total of 18 sample collection dates.
 
Based on the findings, the study team estimated the prevalence of infection varied from 13.5% to 70% across the nine sites, with the highest prevalence observed in four sites that were surrounded by more densely populated neighborhoods.
 
The white-tailed deer functioning as a viral reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 would likely result in one of two outcomes, Bowman said. The virus could mutate in deer, potentially facilitating transmission of new strains to other species, including humans, or the virus could survive in deer unmutated while it simultaneously continues to evolve in humans, and at some point when humans don’t have immunity to the strains infecting deer, those variants could come spilling back to humans.

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To date, how transmission happened initially in these deer, and how it could happen across species, are among the pending questions related to these findings.
 
The study team speculated that white-tailed deer were infected through an environmental pathway ie possibly by drinking contaminated water. Research has shown that the virus is shed in human stool and detectable in wastewater.
 
Although there are an estimated 600,000 white-tailed deer in Ohio and 30 million in the United States, Bowman said this sampling focused on locations close to dense human populations and is not representative of all free-ranging deer.
 
Certain Scientists Speculate That The Omicron Variant May Have Evolved In An Animal Host
 
Typically, when a new COVID-19 variants arise, the accepted wisdom is that the constellation of mutations they contain developed in an immunocompromised person who contracted the virus and couldn’t shake the infection. However, some scientists have an alternative theory for where the latest variant of concern, omicron, may have acquired the unusual mutations that stud its spike protein.
 
These scientists speculate the virus could have evolved in another animal species.
 
The hypothesis goes that some type of animal, potentially rodents, was infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus sometime in mid-2020. In this new species, the virus evolved, accumulating roughly 50 mutations on the spike protein before spilling back over into people.
 
A leading immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute, Dr Kristian Andersen, is among those who has been raising the idea that Omicron may have emerged from a reverse zoonotic event. (A zoonotic event is when an animal pathogen starts to infect and spread among humans. A reverse zoonosis is when such a virus passes back into an animal species.)
 
Dr Andersen told reporters, “I know that most people think that these variants come from immunocompromised individuals, and I do think that that’s plausible, but to be perfectly honest, I actually think this reverse zoonosis followed by new zoonosis seems more likely to me given just the available evidence of the really deep branch, and then the mutations themselves, because some of them are quite unusual. I don’t think we should dismiss that possibility, because I think it’s definitely on the table.”
 
Numerous other scientists who study the evolution of viruses also think the idea isn’t out of the question. Some place more weight on the theory that variants develop in immunocompromised people, while others feel there isn’t enough evidence at this point to favor one option over the other.
 
Dr Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Bern, Switzerland said, “Personally, I think it’s probably more likely it was circulating undetected, in an immunocompromised individual but we should still investigate the hypothesis.”
 
Dr Andrew Rambaut, a professor of molecular evolution at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Edinburgh commented, “I would certainly consider it a plausible alternative hypothesis to the evolution during a persistent infection in a human.”
 
Importantly one of the peculiar traits of SARS-2 underpins this thinking. It is what virologists describe as a promiscuous virus; it is capable of infecting a number of species. Dogs and house cats. Large cats. Mink. White-tailed deer. Given how easily the virus seems to jump from species to species, people studying it assume this list will grow.
 
The initial virus that came out of Wuhan, China, in early 2020 did not infect rodents. But as variants Alpha, Beta, Delta started to emerge, those viruses underwent mutational changes that could infect rodents.
 
A professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane Medical School, Dr Robert Garry, has been tracking the SARS-2 mutations that have arisen. Seven are associated with rodent adaptation - the changes that seemed to allow the virus to infect mice, rats, and related species. All seven of those mutations are in omicron, Garry noted. He believes it’s a toss-up whether the variant developed in an animal or a human host, but if it’s the former, his bet would be on rodents.
 
However, getting a firm answer might require enormous luck. Scientists are looking at various animal species to see if they can be infected with SARS-2; were they to find viruses like omicron in any, that would swing the needle.
 
A professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, Dr Michael Worobey thinks one could do some experiments on selected species of wild animals to see if they can be infected and if, when infected, similar patterns of viral evolution occur.
 
Carefully analyzing the molecular clock of viruses that spread in animals - looking at the speed at which they evolve and comparing it to SARS-2 evolution in humans - could also provide some clues, said Dr Worobey, who initially thought Dr Andersen’s idea was not impossible, but not the likeliest of explanations for omicron. However, after hearing details of the explosive outbreak in white-tailed deer, he’s rethinking the idea.
 
The question is whether any animal species can become chronically infected with SARS-2 - in effect, whether there are animal species in which SARS-2 lingers in the way it does in immunocompromised people. That could put positive selective pressure on the virus ie in other words give it an incentive to mutate to stay ahead of the animal’s immune response.

Dr Worobey added, “It does move my thinking in terms of omicron possibly having come from a reservoir, if there are animal reservoirs that do chronic infections. Part of what leads Dr Andersen to wonder about an animal source is the fact that the variant traces back to viruses that were spreading over a year ago. That in itself you need to be able to explain.”
 
A leading coronavirus virologist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, Dr Angela Rasmussen agreed.
 
Dr Rasmussen said, “I think it’s pretty obvious to everybody … that this virus has been on an independent evolutionary track for quite some time and it’s very surprising, which to me just kind of goes back to say well, the idea that this could be … plausible.”
 
However, worryingly regardless of whether this variant emerged in another species or not, given SARS-2’s ability to jump species, it is possible the world will face animal-derived variants in the very near future, Dr Garry warned.
 
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For the latest about SARS-CoV-2-Animals, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.
 
WISHING ALL OUR  READERS A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR 2022

Read Also: Chinese Scientists Say Omicron Originated From Mice! https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/breaking-china-s-scientists-say-omicron-most-probably-originated-from-a-mouse-and-not-from-a-human-host
 

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