Which animals are susceptible to COVID-19?

TUESDAY, December 15, 2020

According to researchers, humans, ferrets, cats, civets and dogs are the animals most susceptible to infections with the new coronavirus.

The analysis of 10 species also showed that ducks, rats, mice, pigs and chickens were less or not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“If we know which animals are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, we can prevent animal reservoirs from building up from which the coronavirus can reappear at a later date,” said lead author of the study, Luis Serrano.

“Our results provide an indication of why mink – closely related to the ferret – become infected with the disease, which is likely to be exacerbated by their overcrowded living conditions and close contact with human workers,” he added. Serrano is Director of the Center for Genome Regulation in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

“While we also note a potential susceptibility to infection from cats, they do not coexist with humans in the same conditions as other animals, which may explain why there are no known cases of humans being infected from their pets.” Serrano said in a press release from the center.

The study was recently published online in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

For their study, the researchers used computer models to assess how the new coronavirus uses spike proteins on its surface to penetrate the cells of various animals.

The main entry point on the surface of a cell is the ACE2 receptor, which binds to the spike protein. Humans have a wide range of ACE2 variants, as well as different types.

Variants of the ACE2 receptor in humans, followed by ferrets, cats, dogs, and civets, have the strongest binding to the spike protein of the new coronavirus. According to the researchers, mice, rats, chickens and ducks have poor attachment.

The researchers also found that different human variants of ACE2 can affect whether people are more likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have identified mutations in the S protein that drastically reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell and protect the host from being intercepted by COVID-19,” said the study’s lead author, Javier Delgado, who The center is also a researcher.

“We are now developing mini-proteins from the human ACE2 protein to distract the virus from entering cells and block infection,” he said. “Should new mutations of the viral spike protein appear, we could develop new variants to block them.”

As researchers learn more about the susceptibility of different species to SARS-CoV-2 infection, they can serve as a guide for public health action, such as reducing human contact with other susceptible animals.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19.

SOURCE: Center for Genome Regulation, press release, December 10, 2020

Robert Preidt

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