Millions of mice living in New York City are susceptible to COVID-19, researchers have found.
Like humans, rodents have been shown to be susceptible to many variants of the virus, from the original to Omicronincluding high-level infections of the upper and lower respiratory tracts.
World Health Organization (WHO) 2021 report Concluded coronavirus It was “likely” transmitted from bats to humans by an unknown animal.
Since then, cases of human-animal transmission have continued to be reported— including pets.
Researchers at the University of Missouri investigated whether New YorkGiven the large number of rats that call the city home, the rats here could be infested.
There are about eight million wild rats big appleThey are also widely distributed in other urban areas of the country us.
The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal mBio of the American Society for Microbiology, says it is crucial to determine whether wild animals become infected on a large scale to track how the virus might evolve.
Rat caught near sewage system
“As far as we know, this is one of the first studies to show that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes it) Coronavirus disease) variant may be responsible for infection in feral mouse populations in major urban areas of the United States,” said lead author Dr Henry Wan.
With the permission of local officials, the researchers conducted two operations to trap rats in and around areas surrounding the city’s sewage system — primarily in Brooklyn.
sewer monitoring Used to detect disease incidence during a pandemic.
Biologists collected and processed samples from 79 mice captured between September and November 2021 and found that 13 of them (16.5%) had COVID-19.
Expanded to the estimated total population, that means there are more than 1.3 million infected rats in New York City.
Work could help track if virus ‘evolves’
Dr Wan, who specializes in emerging infectious diseases, said the findings reinforce the shared role that humans and animals can play during a pandemic.
The professor added: “It is important that we continue to improve our understanding so we can protect human and animal health.”
“Our findings highlight the need for further monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in rat populations to determine whether the virus is circulating in animals and evolving into new strains that may pose a risk to humans.”
Previous study warns of COVID-19 among animals as social transmission wanes may become an “increasingly important […] potential source of virus reintroduction into humans”.
However, the supposed zoonotic (animal-to-human) origin of the virus has been called into question in recent weeks after the FBI director revealed to US intelligence agencies Think it ‘likely’ came from a Chinese lab leak.
theory The virus has been touted since it first broke out in Wuhan, China, more than three years ago, but the official position of the World Health Organization is that it remains “highly unlikely”.