Coronavirus outbreaks are not as rare as people may think. They may reoccur once in every 10 years and had already made an appearance in yesteryears among civets and dogs. In the year 2002, the SARS-CoV made a shift from civets to people and in 2019, the coronavirus outbreak took over the entire world.
Currently, scientists from a number of nations are saying that the latest coronavirus jump from animals to human beings may have a distinct, alternative source. Make sure you’re sitting for this – reports have said that this strain has been shifted to human beings from none other than dogs themselves.
When the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak, Dr. Gregory Gray took a stab at the possibility of the presence of other coronaviruses that threaten to trigger another outbreak across the world. The only obstacle was that he did not have a powerful enough test kit to look for these other strains and the tests for Covid-19 were running low and limited. They can tell whether one particular SARS-CoV-2 strain is present in the patient’s respiratory tract.
Dr. Gray is an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Global Health Institute at Duke University. He employed a graduate student, Leshan Xiu to create a more potent test- one that would work like a regular Covid-19 test but can also detect all coronaviruses, even ones that are not very popularly known.
Xiu rose to this challenge and created a test kit more powerful than expected by even Gray. The first batch of samples were tested last year in which the duo found evidence of a new coronavirus strain associated with patients hospitalized with pneumonia, especially kids. The journal known as Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that this is the eighth coronavirus known to spread diseases among people.
The samples were taken from patients at a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia. These samples were deep nasal swabs. At first, the patients seemed to be suffering from pneumonia but upon further testing, 2.7% patients or at least 8 out of 301 patients were found to be infected with the canine coronavirus, that is, the newly discovered dog virus.These numbers were initially so unbelievable that Xiu and Gray thought that they had made a mistake. To clarify further, the samples were sent to a world expert on animal-centric coronaviruses, Anastasia Vlasova at Ohio State University. She too was skeptical and thought that there was something wrong but nevertheless, tried to grow the coronavirus in the lab using a special solution that she knew was only compatible with canine coronaviruses. The experiment was successful as the virus grew very well in that solution.
With a ton of samples at hand, Vlasova was also able to decode its genome and the virus’s gene sequences said that this coronavirus strain also infected cats and pigs at one point before making the jump to human beings.
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