It was reported on the 30th that a team of scientists in the United States recently confirmed that the new coronavirus has been found in wild animals in at least 24 states in the United States. Researchers are concerned that the virus may evolve in animal populations, producing dangerous virus mutants that could be passed back to humans.
Researchers collect biological samples from a deer Associated Press data map Researchers collect biological samples from a deer Associated Press data map
Virus mutants may be passed back to humans
A team of scientists in the United States recently tested wild animals such as bears, deer and wolves for the corona virus in a remote Native American reserve in northern Minnesota. They are trying to figure out how, how and where wild animals spread the virus. Now, scientists have found the new coronavirus in wildlife in at least 24 states, including Minnesota.
Scientists worry that the virus could evolve in animal populations, producing dangerous virus mutants that could be passed back to humans and spread between humans. “If the virus can find its place in a wild animal host, there is always a threat of the virus re-spreading into the human population,” said University of Minnesota researcher Matthew Arriotta.
Fish and wildlife biologist Isaac said he expects the risk to become higher as spring arrives, bears wake from hibernation and deer and wolves roam different areas.
looking for mutants
The close contact between humans and animals allows the virus to overcome inherent barriers to transmission between species. To infect any organism, a virus must enter its cells, which is not easy. David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, likens the process to opening a “lock” with the “key” of the virus’s spike protein. “Different species have different locks, some of which cannot be opened by a key,” O’Connor said. But there are also “locks” that are similar enough that viruses can enter animal cells and replicate. It can also mutate randomly and find a key that fits the human “lock”. Scientists believe this allows it to be passed back to humans through close contact with live animals. While this is rare, it takes just one person to bring a mutated virus into the human realm.
Some believe the highly mutated Omicron variant came from animals, not from immunocompromised humans, as many believe. One of them is Mark Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri. Johnson and his colleagues found bizarre lineages of coronaviruses in New York City sewage with mutations rare elsewhere that he thinks came from animals, possibly rodents.
How to stop it?
Scientists are most concerned that current or future variants might establish and multiply widely in the main species. “It’s possible that the virus has been circulating in multiple animals,” said Suresh Kuchipudi, a virology expert at Penn State University. If left unmonitored, the virus could catch people “completely off guard,” he said. “.
Experts say the only way to stop the virus from spreading back and forth between animals and humans is to address major issues such as habitat destruction and illegal wildlife sales. “We’re encroaching on animal habitat in unprecedented ways,” Arliota said. “Unfortunately, I think the spread of events from wildlife to humans is increasing in frequency and scope.”
In response to the threat, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the World Health Organization are urging countries to prioritize animal surveillance of the coronavirus.