The study indicates that deer infected with the Covid virus can harbor the virus and infect humans

In addition to saving lives right now, there is another fundamental reason why public health officials are applying pressure collectively vaccination The slowdown in the spread of COVID-19 is because the longer the virus remains in a number of hosts, the more likely the virus will eventually mutate into something more virulent. This appears to have happened at least twice so far with SARS-CoV-2: first with a highly contagious virus delta variableand then later with Even Omicron is the most contagious variant.

Currently, the number of human hosts in the United States is declining due to The omicron wave falls from its peak. If we’re lucky, it could mean that this wave of infections is over, and while the coronavirus will continue to spread (and mutate) when it becomes endemicIt will have fewer hosts to do so.

or at least Human hosts. As we know, SARS-CoV-2 appears to have spread Bats and pangolins before Transition to humans. We also know that the virus was spread again in animals, most likely via humans: dogand the the catsand the zoo lionand the A large number of deer It appears to have been infected by humans.

Unfortunately, the infection trend can now go the other way. a Modern Canadian Studies This raises the possibility that deer – one of the most common large mammals in North America – may have infected humans with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. This could mean that the virus circulated for some time in deer, where it multiplied and sometimes mutated on its way, before returning to humans.

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Related: From deer and dogs to mice and mink, COVID-19 has spread to the animal world

The new study provides evidence that deer may have infected humans, although this has not been conclusively proven. Conducted by more than two dozen scientists across Ontario and published on the bioRxiv database (not yet peer-reviewed), the study included 300 samples of white-tailed deer in Canada during the last months of 2021. Ten were tested – Seven of those deer tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and they were all from southwestern Ontario. Scientists found that this same SARS-CoV-2 strain, which is very different from other known strains, was also very similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was infecting humans. (It was also closely related to a strain found in humans in Michigan in late 2020.) Although scientists cannot confirm that the virus was transmitted to humans by deer, they do know that humans live in and have been in the same geographical area as deer. . Close contact with deer during the same time period in which infected specimens were collected.


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However, the sample size is very small and no one has it. permanently It was established that deer transmitted the virus to humans. There is also no evidence that a person infected with the mutated SARS-CoV-2 has passed it on to anyone else, and preliminary experiments indicate that the new virus will not be able to escape the antibodies. In other words, if it spreads among people, the vaccinated people are more likely to be safe.

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Finally, since the deer-based SARS-CoV-2 virus is unknown, there is still no reason to believe that it poses an increased risk to humans. The biggest concern is that because viruses can evolve in animals, there’s a chance they could turn into something more serious.

Samira Mubaraka, a virologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto and author of the new paper: “The virus evolves in deer and spreads in deer far from what we see clearly evolving in humans,” He told the New York Times,. After sequencing the complete genomes of five infected elk, scientists discovered several mutations that had not been documented before. They also found 76 mutations that identify the new version of SARS-CoV-2 from the original version of the virus. Some of these mutations have already been detected in other infected animals such as mink.

Shortly before this study was published, a separate group of scientists announce that the Pennsylvania deer may have persisted with the alpha variant even after its disappearance from humans – and that it evolved in them as they continued to propagate it. This increases concerns about deer incubating SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is Believes I grew up in a horseshoe bat. At some point, the virus is thought to have passed to another animal through one or more “spurs” and eventually found its way into a human host. The notorious bat To act as a host for dangerous coronaviruses because their immune system is exceptionally aggressive. This means that viruses that live in bats must evolve and multiply faster to survive.

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“The bottom line is that bats can be special when it comes to harboring viruses,” Mike Potts, a disease ecologist and professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, told Science Daily in 2020. Even bats are not closely related to us, so we wouldn’t expect them to harbor many human viruses. But this work shows how the immune system of bats can drive the virulence that overcomes it. ”

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