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Concern over children catching new strain of Covid from companion dogs UK News

A new strain of coronavirus originating in dogs is infecting children, new research suggests.

A study of clinical infectious diseases in the United States shows that the coronavirus can be transmitted to humans from pets, raising concerns among scientists about other health crises in the future.

Study co-author Dr Anastasia Vlasova of Ohio State University said: “At this point, we see no reason to expect another pandemic of this virus.

“But I can’t say that will never be a problem.”

Linked to breathing difficulties

The new disease evolved from a coronavirus that affects dogs to infect humans and can contribute to respiratory symptoms.

Analysis found that the virus may contribute to respiratory symptoms after some study participants suffered from difficulty breathing, while a young patient developed pneumonia.

Project leader Professor Gregory Gray of Duke University in North Carolina analyzed archived nasal swabs from 301 people treated at a hospital in Sarawak, East Malaysia in 2018.

Eight of these patients, all but one child, were infected with the new coronavirus, named CCoV-HuPn-2018, with one of the patients only five and a half months old.

All eight patients recovered from the virus and were released after four to six days, following oxygen therapy to help them breathe.

The US research team identified the novel canine coronavirus using a molecular diagnostic tool they created last year to detect Covid-19.

Dr Vlasova grew the virus in his lab from one of the clinical samples, which was from a child, and by reconstructing his genome, the team was able to confirm the canine coronavirus.

However, it is not yet clear whether the virus poses a serious threat, but researchers fear animal-to-human infections may become more frequent.

Professor Gray said: “How common this virus is and whether it can be transmitted effectively from dogs to humans or between humans, no one knows.

“What’s more important is that these coronaviruses are probably spreading to humans from animals much more frequently than we realize.

“We miss them because most hospital diagnostic tests only detect known human coronaviruses.”

“We need to do such virus discovery work among people with pneumonia and also among people who have intense animal exposure so that we are promptly alerted to a new virus that could become a future pandemic virus.”

The researchers stressed that better monitoring of areas where animals and humans intersect is needed to help mitigate the threat of epidemics in the future.

Dr Gray added: “If we are serious about mitigating the threat, we need better surveillance where humans and animals intersect, and among people sick enough to be hospitalized with new viruses.

“Diagnostic tools like hers have the potential to identify other viruses new to humans before they cause a pandemic.

“These pathogens not only cause a pandemic overnight, it takes them many years to adapt to the human immune system and cause infection, and then to become effective in human-to-human transmission.

“We need to look for these pathogens and detect them quickly.”

Currently researching

The researchers plan to study the new virus in more detail to determine how harmful it is or could become to humans.

At this time, it is not known whether the virus can be passed from person to person, or how well the human immune system can fight it.

Dr Vlasova said: “We don’t really have any evidence at the moment that this virus can cause serious illness in adults.”

She noted that only one of the infected patients was an adult, adding, “I cannot rule out the possibility that at some point this new coronavirus will become a widespread human pathogen.

“Once a coronavirus is able to infect a human, all bets are off.”

When a virus changes its genetic makeup enough to go from infection in animals to humans, a combination of factors determines how well it replicates and spreads.

It must first enter the human body and recognize something on the surface of cells, and then bind to it. About half of the genes of the canine coronavirus are similar to those of Covid-19.

The virus causes different symptoms in dogs, including gastrointestinal problems, while those infected suffer from respiratory illness.

The potential threat posed by viruses to dogs or cats, which also suffer from illnesses caused by coronaviruses, has not been widely studied, but researchers are now calling for better monitoring

Dr Vlasova added: “Animal virus surveillance is one way to protect public health.

“Our main focus is on studying emerging diseases in humans – not animals. This is a big flaw in the current approach.”

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This notice was published: 2021-05-25 06:33:00