Wildlife biologists prioritize monitoring wild animals for SARS-CoV-2 | smart news

Photo of a white-tailed deer standing in the snow-covered forest and looking straight into the camera

Among the deer tested in Iowa between September 2020 and January 2021, a third of all white-tailed deer were infected with SARS-coV-2.

Joseph A. Macker via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY SA 3.0

In the forests of northern Minnesota, researchers infiltrate the dens of hibernating black bears, hunt deer in nets, and hunt coyotes and bananas to get a quick swab from their snouts — all in an effort to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, in Wildlife, Laura Ungar wrote in a feature for News agency.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how closely animal and human health are interconnected. Although the exact source of the virus has not been precisely determined, researchers suspect that it may have jumped from bats to humans, directly or through an animal vector. Although SARS-CoV-2 is known to infect animal species, the Covid-19 pandemic is driven by human-to-human transmission. While current research shows that wildlife does not play a significant role in the spread of the virus between humans, experts remain concerned about the spread of the virus among animal populations, which may facilitate the emergence of new viral variants.

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Animal Health – formerly the International Office of Epidemiology (OIE) – released joint statement He called on global wildlife agencies to prioritize monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 infection in wildlife to prevent the formation of animal reservoirs. in tank, The virus can mutate and appear different strains. So far, domestic animals, big cats, mink, ferrets, North American white-tailed deer, and great apes have been observed to have been infected with the virus. According to the statement, cases of domesticated minks and hamsters on farms have been shown to be capable of infecting humans with SARS-CoV-2.

Matthew Aliotta, an emerging pathogen biologist at the University of Minnesota who is involved in the state’s tracing effort, tells The Associated Press. After scanning the animal’s noses, the biologists send the samples to the Aleuta Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota. Test results may reveal which animals have been infected and could spread the virus to other forest creatures, such as red foxes and raccoons, the AP reports.

EJ Isaac, a fish and wildlife biologist at the preserve home in Grand Portage Ojibwe, tells The Associated Press that he expects the risks to be higher this spring when the animals wake up from hibernation and mingle with other animals and roam different areas.

Currently, in the wild at least 24 US states They contracted the virus. One notable potential reservoir species appears to be the white-tailed deer. University of Pennsylvania microbiologist Andrew Marques, who co-authored the study, said Ari Daniel from NPR That the rate of transmission is “absolutely amazing when we think about the rate of positivity in humans.” (In March when the study was published, coronavirus infection rates in a city like Philadelphia were about three percent in humans, according to NPR.)

Between September 2020 and January 2021, researchers in Iowa tested 151 wild white-tailed deer and 132 captive deer, according to the A study published in PNAS in January. Of those, 33 percent have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. During the same time frame, the USDA collected 481 specimens of deer in Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, as well as I found about a third of those deer Corona virus antibodies were present in their systems.

Recently in the fall and winter of 2021, researchers at Pennsylvania He also identified a 20 percent positive rate of coronavirus in a deceased whitetail deer that had been caught or involved in vehicle collisions, NPR; Both cases are when human-animal interaction is more likely. They were also able to sequence the genomes of seven samples and found that a delta strain was present, which represents the first observations of a deer subspecies, according to the study.

Canadian study published on prepress server bioRxiv In February of this year, it identified a person who may have contracted a mutated strain of the virus from an infected white-tailed deer, according to the Associated Press. This study is currently the subject of peer review by an external panel of experts, according to WHO statement.

“We are encroaching on animal habitats like never before in history,” Aliota told The Associated Press. “Indirect events from wild animals to humans, unfortunately, I think will increase in frequency and scope.”