NEW study confirms that animal to human coronavirus transmission is possible however further research is needed to confirm the extend of this in the wider population.
A new empirical study under-taken in the Netherlands hypothesises that transmission from human to animal and vice versa is possible. Academic researchers gathered data from 16 different mink farms in Holland.
The Dutch study is the first to prove that, while the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak has never officially been identified, it would be possible for the disease to transfer to humans from animal. The study supports the theory that the virus started in a Chinese wet market however this has yet to be proven.
As scientists are unsure of the exact origin of the pandemic, they have been studying the ability of the virus to cross species boundaries.
It is already confirmed that a range of animals are able to be infected with and carry the coronavirus including primates, dogs, cats, bats, hamsters, rabbits, lions, and tigers. Now this study has demonstrated that minks are also susceptible.
However, more-over, the research is the first to prove that cross species infection can occur. Using whole genome sequencing technology, the researchers could identify the specific source of transmission in both the minks and the farm workers.
The study includes a sample size of 720,000 animals and 97 humans. Of the human subjects 67% showed evidence of the COVID-19 infection.
The study reads, “Due to longitudinal follow up of the first 4 farms, we have strong evidence that at least two people on those farms were infected by minks. Unfortunately, based on our research we cannot make definite conclusions on the direction of most of the infections, so we do not know the total number of people that were infected by minks,”
It continues, “We conclude that initially the virus was introduced from humans and has evolved on mink farms, most likely reflecting widespread circulation among mink in the first SARS-CoV-2 mink farms, several weeks prior to detection.”
The genetic samples taken from the minks and from their human counterparts identifies that the infection was identical to those found in either party.
However, samples taken from participants wider a field who had not been exposed to the animals but still demonstrated COVID-19 infection were not identical which demonstrates that their infection came from elsewhere.
The study, however does caution that this is initial findings and more research on a wider scale is needed to discover the true extent of animal to human transmission.
The study states, “Additional research will be needed to determine the routes of transmission. We conclude that at least some of these employees are very likely to have been infected directly from infected mink and thereby describe the first proven zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans. Close collaboration between human and animal health departments is essential for early identification and control of SARS-CoV-2 infections,”
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