Researchers working at the University of California, Davis recently discovered a way to find out which species of animal are susceptible to being infected by the coronavirus. Many researchers have attempted to figure out ways of testing this since the beginning of the pandemic, however, no one was able to come up with a way to do it without potentially harming the animal by infecting them on purpose; until now.
The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). The research showed that any animal that has the same enzyme in their cells that SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect human beings with the coronavirus would be at risk. The enzyme is referred to by scientists as ACE2, and is found within multiple types of cells in the human body, specifically our lung, nose, and mouth cells; the areas the coronavirus impacts the most initially.
When the coronavirus enters our bloodstream it binds itself to 25 amino acids (the particles that build proteins) and the ACE2 enzyme. Animals that have the same specific enzyme and 25 amino acids have the highest risk of potential infection while animals who have the enzyme but not all 25 specific amino acids are at a much lower risk.
Prior to this study, we were already aware that the coronavirus could potentially infect dogs and cats, as it already has multiple times. Last month, Buddy the german shepard went viral online after being the first dog in America to contract Covid-19; Buddy unfortunately lost his life to the virus as well. House cats and wild cats are also at major risk, you may remember a couple of months ago when three African lions at the Bronx Zoo contracted the virus, however, there is no record of any type of cat dying from the virus. So this study wanted to focus more on other species that may be overlooked in terms of the coronavirus conversation.
“Among 103 species, 41 (40%) are classified in one of three ‘threatened’ categories (vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered), five are classified as near threatened, and two species are classified as extinct in the wild. This represents only a small fraction of the threatened species also.”
12 marine mammals, including dolphins, are at high risk as well as many different species of rodent, three types of deer, and more. Giant anteaters and the Angolan colobus monkey also made the list of high-risk for infection. The main goal of this entire study was not only to figure out which animals could potentially get the virus, but also to find new ways that humans and animals may be transmitting it to each other.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already stated that there is no evidence that infected dogs or cats could give the virus to humans, and person-to-person will always be the number one source of infection. Asymptomatic individuals being the most dangerous demographic of individuals, as they could be unknowingly spreading it around.
The research concluded that household pets really aren’t at risk, as they normally are always socially distancing from other animals and people by staying at home, however, it’s important to note that it’s unclear as to whether or not humans can give the virus to their pets. So remain diligent in your own health and safety procedures not only for your own safety, but also for the furry friends who rely on you everyday to take care of them.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.