Udayavni Special

‘Dog coronavirus found in humans’ – why you shouldn’t worry


PTI, May 29, 2021, 11:34 AM IST

Cambridge (UK): Scientists have found a new canine coronavirus in a handful of people hospitalised with pneumonia. This may sound alarming, but once we unpack it, you will see that there’s no reason to lose any sleep.

The discovery of the canine coronavirus in eight people at a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia, was reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases by a group of highly regarded international scientists. So does this mean dogs can spread coronaviruses to humans?

The first thing to clarify is what canine coronavirus is. Importantly, it is quite distinct from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The coronavirus family can be divided into four groups of viruses: alpha, beta, gamma and delta coronaviruses.

SARS-CoV-2 falls within the betacoronaviruses group, whereas the canine coronaviruses are in the entirely separate alphacoronavirus group.

Scientists have known about canine coronaviruses for almost 50 years.

These viruses have existed in relative obscurity over most of this period, being of interest only to veterinary virologists and occasional dog owners.

There are no previous reports of these viruses infecting people. But the sudden international spotlight on all coronaviruses is finding coronaviruses in places we haven’t looked before.

The canine coronavirus infections recently identified in people were actually discovered serendipitously. Scientists were not specifically looking for canine coronavirus, and the patients involved had long since recovered. The researchers were trying to develop a new test that could detect all kinds of coronaviruses at the same time – a so-called pan-CoV test.

After confirming the test worked on samples of viruses grown in laboratories, they tested it on 192 human swabs from hospitalised pneumonia patients in Malaysia. Nine of these samples tested positive for coronaviruses.

Further analysis showed that five out of the nine samples were ordinary human coronaviruses that can cause colds. But, surprisingly, four of the samples were canine coronavirus. Further study of patients from the same hospital revealed four more positive patients.

The researchers studied nose and throat swabs from all eight Malaysian patients to try to learn more about the canine coronaviruses. Samples were put onto dog cells in the lab to see if any live virus was present. Virus from a single sample replicated well, and virus particles could be seen using electron microscopy. The scientists were also able to sequence the virus’s genome.

The analysis found that this canine coronavirus was closely related to a few different alphacoronaviruses – including those from pigs and cats – and showed it had not previously been identified anywhere else.

 

No evidence of onward spread

 

Was canine coronavirus responsible for the pneumonia in the patients? At the moment, we simply can’t tell. Seven out of eight patients were simultaneously infected with another virus, either adenovirus, influenza or parainfluenza virus.

We know that all of these viruses can cause pneumonia by themselves, so it is more likely that these were responsible for the disease. We can say there is an association between pneumonia and canine coronavirus in these patients, but we can’t say it is the cause.

There have been concerns that the canine coronavirus identified in these Malaysian patients could spread from person to person, resulting in a wider outbreak.

What many headlines don’t clarify is that these human infections actually occurred in 2017 and 2018. This makes the likelihood of a canine coronavirus outbreak from this source even lower as there is no evidence of onward spread in the intervening three to four years.

As coronaviruses have become the centre of attention and we search for related viruses, we are inevitably going to find more positive samples in unexpected places. The vast majority of these will be of academic interest only, and need not raise alarm.

However, it is critical that surveillance for new coronaviruses continues and expands so that we have the best possible chance of identifying significant cross-species jumps in the future.

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

Assess if physical classes can be held for students of classes 10 and 12 in COVID-free villages: Maha CM

2 more Cong MLAs back Siddaramaiah as CM candidate in next assembly election

Complete pending road works soon: Udupi DC Jagadeesh directs NH officials

B’luru-based firm launches helpline for COVID related legal queries

‘Jal Jeevan Mission’: Govt to provide tap water connection to 25 lakh rural households this year

Sitharaman meets Infosys officials, reviews tech glitches on new I-T e-filing portal

SC refuses to interfere with CBSE, CISCE assessment scheme for evaluating Class 12 students



Related Articles More

IIT-B scientist gets DCGI nod to launch algo-based COVID-19 testing tool

COVID effect: Confidence levels of working women, young professionals lowest amongst workforce

Is Covid wave 2 over? Positivity rate below 5 pc for 15 days, but experts say end still far

Third wave? 350 children test Covid positive every week in Mysuru

COVID-19: 4,867 new cases including 542 in DK, 142 deaths in Karnataka

MUST WATCH

Karnataka Covid-19 Unlock

Jayalaxmi Silks Udyavara | Premium Chiffon Sarees

Massive Landslide in Chorla Ghat

Forest Department personnel responsible for cattle smuggling

All shops permitted to open from June 23 in Dakshina Kannada: Kota Poojary

Latest Additions

Assess if physical classes can be held for students of classes 10 and 12 in COVID-free villages: Maha CM

West Bengal budget session to begin from July 2

2 more Cong MLAs back Siddaramaiah as CM candidate in next assembly election

Complete pending road works soon: Udupi DC Jagadeesh directs NH officials

Power lunch: Adityanath, RSS leaders meet at Dy CM Maurya’s home

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.