Research shows there is a need to keep an eye out for animal viruses, researchers say.
Researchers have identified and completed the genetic analysis of a newly discovered coronavirus – a virus that evolved from a coronavirus that strikes dogs to infect humans and may contribute to respiratory symptoms.
The discovery of the first canine coronavirus identified to have transitioned to infect humans underscores the insidious nature of coronaviruses and the need to monitor animal viruses as a way of predicting potential threats to public health, researchers said.
“At this point, we don’t see any reason to expect another pandemic from this virus, but I can’t say this will never be a concern in the future,” said Anastasia Vlasova, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University.
College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). She conducted the study with Gregory C. Gray, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Duke University School of Medicine, and Teck-Hock Toh, a professor at SEGi University in Sarawak, Malaysia.
In 2018, researchers analyzed nasal swabs from 301 patients treated for pneumonia in an East Malaysian hospital.
Eight patients, all but one of them children, were found to be infected with the newly discovered coronavirus that the study researchers named CCoV-HuPn-2018.
All eight patients were treated and released to the hospital after four to six days, where they were given oxygen to breathe.
In a study published May 20, 2021 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers describe the genetic characteristics of CCoV-HuPn-2018, suggesting it is a new coronavirus that has moved from infecting dogs to infecting humans .
Vlasova and her colleagues plan to further study the CCoV-HuPn-2018 virus to determine how harmful it is – or could become – to humans.
It is not known whether the virus can be passed from person to person, or how well the human immune system can fight it.
“We don’t have real evidence at this time that this virus can cause serious illness in adults,” Vlasova said, citing that only one person in the study infected with the novel coronavirus was an adult.
“I cannot rule out that this new coronavirus will become a common human pathogen at some point. Once a coronavirus can infect a human, all bets are off. “Viruses are constantly changing.
When a virus changes its genetic makeup enough to move from infecting just one type of animal to infecting humans, a combination of factors determines how well the new virus can replicate and spread among humans.
In order for animal coronavirus to infect humans, the virus must first enter the human body and recognize something on the surface of the cells and then bind to those cells.
“We know this virus can do that,” said Vlasova. However, having a dog on a person can be a dead end to CCoV-HuPn-2018 once the virus doesn’t replicate properly in the person, or if the person’s immune system fends it off, Vlasova said.
the newly discovered coronavirus is similar to that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, Vlasova said.
n in the study were found to be infected with the CCoV-HuPn-2018 virus, the study’s researchers say these or very similar viruses are likely to be much more widespread than those among dogs and humans in Malaysia.
“A one-time sample won’t tell you exactly how common it is,” Vlasova said. “The sampling has to be repeated and carried out over a period of time to see how many people become infected.
” If confirmed by further epidemiological studies, this new coronavirus could be the eighth coronavirus shown to cause disease in humans.
“If you had said this twenty years ago that a virus that affects dogs can change to infect humans, many would have been skeptical,” Vlasova said.
While this new coronavirus comes from a dog, in the light of this study, it may not be necessary for people to change the way they interact with their dogs, Vlasova said.
“But I would definitely keep a close eye on how much I let my babies around dogs,” she said. Seven of the eight people hospitalized in Malaysia who were infected with the CCoV-HuPn-2018 virus were children, one as young as 5 1/2 months old.
The CCoV-HuPn-2018 virus has different symptoms than the dog virus it came from, which caused gastrointestinal problems in dogs, such as diarrhea and upset stomach.
People infected with the CCoV-HuPn-2018 virus experience respiratory disease that does not include gastrointestinal issues. “We are probably missing important animal viruses that are starting to adapt to humans,” said Gray.
“We need to carry out such virus discovery work in people with pneumonia, as well as people who have been heavily exposed to animals, so that we are warned early on of a new virus that could become a future pandemic virus.
” The potential threat posed by the viruses from dogs or cats, which also suffer from coronavirus diseases, has not been extensively studied, although they should, Vlasova said. Monitoring animal viruses is one way to protect public health, she said.
“We put a lot of emphasis on studying emerging diseases in humans – not animals,” said Vlasova. “That’s a big mistake in the current approach.” Reference:
“Novel Canine Coronavirus Isolated from a Hospitalized Longonia Patient, East Malaysia” by Anastasia N Vlasova, PhD, Annika Diaz, Debasu Damtie, MS, Leshan Xiu, MS, Teck-Hock Toh, MD, Jeffrey Soon-Yit Lee, MD , Linda J Saif, PhD, Gregory C Gray, MD, May 20, 2021, Clinical Infectious Diseases.