Which animals are vulnerable to COVID-19?


Humans, ferrets, cats, hedgehogs and dogs are the animals most susceptible to infection with the new coronavirus, the researchers say.

The analysis of 10 species also found that ducks, rats, mice, pigs and chickens were less or less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Knowing which animals are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 helps prevent the accumulation of animal reservoirs from which the coronavirus may reappear at a later date,” said study lead author Luis Serrano.

“Our findings provide a clue as to why minks – which are closely related to ferrets – are infected with the disease, which is likely to be exacerbated by packaged living conditions and close contact with human workers,” he said. Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

“Although we also find a potential susceptibility to infection by cats, they do not coexist with humans in the same conditions as other animals, which could explain why so far no cases of people infected with their pets are known. “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 modeling to evaluate how the new coronavirus uses spike proteins on its surface to invade the cells of different 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 do different species.

ACE2 receptor variants in humans, followed by ferrets, cats, dogs and civets, have the strongest protein binding on the new coronavirus. Mice, rats, chickens and ducks have a weak connection, according to researchers.

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

“We have identified S-protein mutations that dramatically reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell, protecting the host from trapping COVID-19,” said the study’s lead author, Javier Delgado, who is also a researcher at the center. .

“We are now engineering mini-proteins from the human ACE2 protein to ‘distract’ the virus from entering the cells and block an infection,” he said. If new mutations in the spike viral protein occur, we could design new variants to block them.

Finding out more about the susceptibility of different species to SARS-CoV-2 infection may help guide public health measures, such as reducing human contact with other susceptible animals, according to the researchers.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about COVID-19.

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

Robert Preidt

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