Dozens of mammals can be infected with COVID-19

In this news, we discuss the Dozens of mammals can be infected with COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that cats, dogs and a few other types of animals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Now, a large modeling study conducted by researchers at UCL indicates that many animals may be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, reports evidence that 26 animals regularly in contact with humans may be susceptible to infection.

Researchers investigated how the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein might interact with the ACE2 protein it attaches to when it infects people.

The aim of the investigation was to find out whether mutations in the ACE2 protein in 215 different animals, which differentiate it from the human version, would reduce the stability of the binding complex between the viral protein and the host protein. Binding to the protein allows the virus to enter host cells; if it is possible that the virus could infect animals by another route, it is unlikely, based on current evidence, that the virus can infect an animal if it cannot form a stable binding complex with ACE2 .

Researchers have found that for some animals, such as sheep and great apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and bonobo, many of which are endangered in the wild), proteins would be able to bind together too. strongly only when the virus infects people. Some animals, like sheep, have not yet been studied with infection testing, so this does not confirm that the animal may indeed be infected.

Lead author Professor Christine Orengo (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology) said: “We wanted to look beyond the only animals that had been studied experimentally, to see which animals might be at risk of infection, and would justify further investigation and possible surveillance.

“The animals we have identified may be exposed to epidemics that can threaten endangered species or harm farmers’ livelihoods. Animals could also serve as reservoirs for the virus, with the potential to reinfect humans later, as has been documented in mink farms.

The research team also performed more detailed structural analyzes for some animals, in order to better understand how the risks of infection may differ between animal species. By comparing their results to other experimental data, they set cutoffs to predict which animals are at risk of infection and which probably cannot be infected.

They found that most birds, fish and reptiles did not appear to be at risk of infection, but the majority of mammals they examined could be infected.

“The details of the host infection and the severity of the response are more complex than the spike protein’s interactions with ACE2, so our research continues to explore interactions involving other virus proteins. the host, ”Orengo said.

The team’s findings are mostly consistent with experiments in live animals and with reported cases of infections. They predict possible infection in domestic cats, dogs, mink, lions and tigers, which have all had reported cases, as well as ferrets and macaques, which were infected in lab studies.

“Unlike laboratory experiments, the computer analyzes we have designed can be performed automatically and quickly. Therefore, these methods could be easily applied to future virus outbreaks which, unfortunately, are becoming more and more common due to human encroachment into natural habitats, ”said first author Su Datt Lam (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology and National University of Malaysia).

“To protect animals, as well as to protect ourselves from the risk of one day catching Covid-19 from an infected animal, we need large-scale surveillance of animals, especially pets and animals. on the farm, to catch cases or clusters early while they’re still manageable, ”said co-author Prof Joanne Santini (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology).

“It may also be important to employ hygiene measures with animals, similar to the behaviors we have all learned this year to reduce transmission, and for those infected to isolate themselves from animals as well as from others.”

News Highlights:

Dozens of mammals can be infected with COVID-19

26 animals in contact with humans may be susceptible to COVID-19

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