SARS-CoV-2 could be lurking in animal hidey-holes

In the field of epidemiology, a “spillover” is a virus that has made the leap from one host species to another. The spillovers of most concern to people are those from other animals to Homo sapiens. These may then go on to create “zoonotic” human diseases—of which covid-19 is believed to be one (the original host of sars-cov-2 is thought to have been an as-yet-undetermined species of bat).

Such traffic can, however, run in two directions. For example, in 2020 the World Health Organisation reported that sars-cov-2 had spilled over in Denmark from human beings into farmed mink, and was thereafter transmitted from animal to animal to create a separate veterinary epidemic. And, earlier this month, a paper posted on BioRxiv, an electronic host for work that has not yet been peer reviewed, presented evidence that the virus is also circulating in white-tailed deer in North America, having presumably spilled over from people there. All of which is on top of reports suggesting that domestic pets, especially cats and dogs, can also pick up sars-cov-2—and in the case of cats at least, can then pass it on to others of their kind.

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In the field of epidemiology, a “spillover” is a virus that has made the leap from one host species to another. The spillovers of most concern to people are those from other animals to Homo sapiens. These may then go on to create “zoonotic” human diseases—of which covid-19 is believed to be one (the original…

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