Two more new coronaviruses could infect people

Two more new coronaviruses could infect people

A dog coronavirus and one of the pigs appear to be able to infect humans. No evidence of transmission between people, but they must be monitored

(image: Ohio State University) There may be many other coronaviruses that are potentially dangerous to humans. Not only in remote forests, but also indoors, in our dogs and cats. An international team just published an article in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases claiming to have found a novel chimeric coronavirus - a genetic patchwork of viruses from dogs, cats and pigs - in biological samples from 8 children hospitalized for pneumonia in Malaysia between 2017. and 2018. And other researchers are reporting cases of coronavirus transmission from pigs to people in Haiti.

A canine coronavirus

The succession of three outbreaks of coronavirus (SARS -Cov-1, Mers-Cov and the current Sars-Cov-2) made Gregory Gray, of Duke University think, that the spillover could not be such a rare event and that going to look for in cases of infection with unknown cause in the recent past, perhaps, something else would turn up. Thus, together with his collaborators, he has developed a test similar to the one used today to track Sars-Cov-2 in people but able to detect also unknown coronaviruses.

Analyzing biological samples from 301 people hospitalized for pneumonia In a hospital in Malaysia between 2017 and 2018, researchers found in 8 children the genome of a coronavirus never before seen in humans, very similar to one known to infect dogs.

A truly unusual finding, researchers acknowledge: Up until now, canine coronaviruses were thought not to be transmitted to humans. The team has confirmed the presence of this new pathogen in cell cultures, but it should be noted that it has not (yet) proved that it is the cause of human pneumonia: for the moment it is only possible to say that there is an association with the disease. .

Evolution in progress

By studying the genome of this new coronavirus, researchers have established that it is an alpha coronavirus (Sars-Cov-1 and 2 and Mers-Cov are coronaviruses beta) and that although it is almost completely similar to the canine virus there are important differences, which suggest that it has already infected cats and pigs, acquiring a mutation very similar to one found in the Sars virus. In short, this pathogen has long since embarked on the path that could lead it to efficiently infect humans and then to be transmitted from person to person.

Spillover everywhere

Canine coronavirus found in Malaysian patients could be in good (so to speak) company. In March, for example, researchers at the University of Florida reported the detection of another porcine delta coronavirus that appears to infect people in Haiti (after that of Hong Kong in 2012 and the United States in 2014). .

Password: monitor

Preventing viruses from mutating is not possible, but we can and must increase the monitoring of infectious diseases, experts say. This is how it is possible to identify new pathogens potentially dangerous to humans before they become a global problem.

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