Dozens of Mammals at Risk of COVID Infection

WEDNESDAY, October 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) – More than two dozen types of animals that are often in close contact with people may be at risk for coronavirus infection, a new study suggests.

This could threaten some endangered species and harm some types of farms. In addition, some animals can serve as reservoirs for human reinfection, according to researchers at University College London (UCL).

For the study, the researchers looked at how the spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 interacts with a protein it attaches to when it infects people, called the ACE2 protein. The researchers then looked at how well the viral protein could bind to the ACE2 protein in 215 different animals.

Binding to the ACE2 protein allows the virus to enter host cells. It’s possible that the virus could infect animals through a different route, but current information suggests that is unlikely, the study authors said.

Among the species studied, the researchers found evidence that 26 animals regularly in contact with people may be susceptible to infection with the novel coronavirus.

Most birds, fish and reptiles do not appear to be endangered, but the majority of mammals examined could potentially be infected, according to the results.

In some mammals, such as sheep and great apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and bonobo, many of which are endangered), the proteins could bind as tightly as when the virus infects humans.

Some animals, such as sheep, have not yet been studied with tests for infection, so these results do not confirm that they can indeed be infected, according to the report published Oct. 5 in the journal. Scientific reports.

Researchers predict possible infection in domestic cats, dogs, lions, tigers and mink, which have reported cases, as well as ferrets and macaques, which were infected in laboratory studies.

“We wanted to look beyond the only animals that had been studied experimentally, to see which animals might be at risk for infection, and warrant further investigation and possible surveillance,” said lead author Christine Orengo, professor of structural and molecular biology at UCL.

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Jothi Venkat

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