This is a common topic on infectology: diseases are often brought to humans due to the interaction with wild animals. Who is the suspect this time? A rather usual… a hint: it’s a mammal, and it flies.
The coronaviruses have natural hosts in the wild, and also generate diseases among animals. The coronavirus natural hosts are all mammals, so, in theory all mammals share similar receptors for the virus and can be natural hosts.
But the infographic below brings what’s already know regarding coronavirus natural hosts. For information regarding “urban” transmission, check this post.
The animal diseases caused by coronavirus on it snatural hosts are serious and one way or the other, normally related to respiratory function. There are birds, horses, mice, dogs and even whales reported as coronavirus natural hosts. There is really a zoo of animal hosts reported for this class of viruses.
Coronaviruses present a “severe global health threat,” write researchers from Wuhan University and Sun Yat-sen University in the Journal of Medical Virology. The viruses aren’t new, nor do they infect only people.
According to the veterinarian literature that is illustrated in the infographic above, the coronaviruses already also cause:
Coronavirus natural hosts and the symptoms they produce
Birds: Respiratory tract infection
Cats: Fever and Vasculitis
Horses: Fever and Anorexia
Mice: Severe Lung Injury
Whales: Lung and Liver diseases
The list is vast and includes wild animals, but also farm animals and even pets as coronavirus natural hosts.
Oh wait, pets? So, do I need to quarantine my loved dog/cat? Hold on… there other types of coronaviruses, we are not talking specifically about coronavirus Covid-19 in this case. Other types of coronaviruses affect the animals listed above. They are not necessarily host of the Covid-19. And, the topic is still controversial, but you don’t need to treat your pet as a focus of coronavirus infection.
Regarding the current coronavirus Covid-19, responsible for the global respiratory disease outbreak, some researchers believe it may have been introduced to humankind by the bats.
Some species spread coronaviruses without becoming sick, like the camels that carry Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov), also caused by virus of the coronavirus class. MERS-CoV is also eventually found in sheeps, goats and donkeys.
For the Covid-19, it happened to be the bats. Some say that people at the region of Wuhan actually feed on wild livestocks. I have no idea about it, but if it happens, this intimate contact with the bats would potentially transmit the virus to the human “host”.
Bats immune response enables them to house coronaviruses without becoming sick, making them a dangerous reservoir of infection. This is typical of this species, that normally carries a lot of different microorganisms. Bats are natural hosts of several potential human diseases,
Of note, there are trustable evidence that the pangolin is also another natural host of coronavirus. A paper to be published soon associated an important part of the pangolin-associated coronavirus with the Covid-19 virus strain. They may have been the original source from where natural mutations occurred.
Animal markets in Wuhan are famous for selling pangolins and pangolins scales. So… there is potentially a connect. The list of suspects increase the deeper goes the investigation. So, let’s update it accordingly.
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