Experts Discover A New Contagious And Potentially Deadly Coronavirus Originating From Dogs In Malaysia

Scientists have seen that many coronaviruses have been emerging from animals to humans regularly for the last two decades. The SARS-CoV virus has jumped from civets to humans in 2002. After ten years, MERS has merged from camels. Recently, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has started spreading across the world in 2019 that has supposedly emerged from bats in Wuhan city of China. Scientists have said that the trend is quite disturbing and such coronavirus outbreaks are not rare incidents rather they are more likely to emerge every decade or so. Now, a team of scientists has discovered a new coronavirus that has jumped from animals to humans. Surprisingly, this time, the new virus has come from dogs, said the experts. When the COVID19 pandemic has emerged, Dr. Gregory Gray has started thinking if there are other coronaviruses that are circulating that can make people fall sick and trigger another outbreak. Dr. Gregory Gray is an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Global Health Institute of the Duke University. He has said that initially, there has been no tool to trace different types of coronaviruses. Even the currently available test for COVID19 is quite limited; it looks for only the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the respiratory tract. Now his team has come up with a more effective test that can possibly detect all kinds of coronaviruses. Experts have said that it works like a COVID19 test only.

Scientists have said that the tool to detect all types of coronaviruses has performed much better than anybody has expected. With the help of this tool, Dr. Gregory Gray and his team have been able to find an entirely new coronavirus that has been linked to pneumonia patients who are hospitalized. The team has tested the first batch of samples last year. They have found that mostly, children are affected by this new virus. As per the experts, this is the eighth known coronavirus that has made people fall sick. Experts have taken the samples from a hospital in Sarawak Malaysia in 2017 and 2018. Scientists have said that deep nasal swabs have been taken to detect this coronavirus that is the same as healthcare workers collect from the COVID19 patients to find out the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Dr. Gregory Gray has said that patients who have been found to be infected with this new coronavirus have been showing symptoms like pneumonia.

The team of experts has tested around 301 samples. They have said that only eight people have been found to have respiratory tracts infected with the new canine coronavirus that has originated from dogs. Dr. Gregory Gray has said that it shows the new virus has a quite high prevalence. He has said that the prevalence of this new virus is so remarkably high that his team has thought they might have made an error while testing the samples. Scientists have sent the samples of these patients to a world expert on animal coronaviruses at Ohio State University, Anastasia Vlasova to verify their findings. She as well has been surprised by the findings. She has said that earlier, experts have thought that canine coronaviruses cannot be transmitted to humans. It has never been seen before, said the virologist at Ohio State University.

Dr. Anastasia Vlasova has tried to develop coronavirus in the lab with the help of a special solution that is effective for canine coronavirus. As the new coronavirus has grown quite well in the lab, she has been able to decode its genome.  She has said that considering the genetic sequences of the virus, it appears that the dog virus has infected cats and pigs as well in the past but most probably it has come from dogs to humans. Anastasia Vlasova has been able to unearth a concerning clue about the future of this virus. She has said that the virus contains a quite distinct and unique mutation in the genome. This particular mutation has not been seen in any canine coronaviruses until now. As per the expert, this specific mutation has been seen in human coronavirus as it is very akin to the one mutation that has been found in the SARS-CoV and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Dr. Vlasova has said that this mutation has been found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus soon after it has started infecting the human population. Scientists have said that the unique mutation helps the dog virus to infect and stay inside human hosts.

This mutation might be linked to the virus adaptation during the transition from animals to humans, said the expert. As per the genetic data, scientists have been able to catch this virus quite early before the virus can try to figure out how to infect a large human population. Experts fear that it might be able to spread from person to person and lead to a big outbreak in the future. A virologist from the University of Arkansas, Xumin Zhang has said that until now, there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of the dog virus. Experts are unclear how these patients have contracted the virus or whether they have been in close contact with the infected animals. Zhang has been working on coronaviruses for almost 30 years. He has said that it is too soon to call it a human virus. The authors of the study and Dr. Anastasia Vlasova and her team have not said that the dog virus can lead to pneumonia. The virus has been only linked to the disease so far. Dr. Xumin Zhang has said that to know if the virus can lead to pneumonia, experts need to inject the pathogen into humans and see whether it mimics the disease and for ethical reasons, they are not allowed to perform such trials. He has claimed that it will not be surprising if the virus turns out to be a human pathogen. According to Dr. Zhang, pneumonia patients might be carrying many unknown coronaviruses. There are many animal coronaviruses that can transmit to humans.


Daniel Brian

I've spent eight years as a writer and an associate editor for the best in the business, including as a Brazil-based staffer for The Wall Street Journal. I'm particularly interested in companies finding unique ways to make our world more sustainable. Since 2017, I focus on business and investing in the big emerging markets exclusively for NeptunePine. My work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Nation, Salon, and USA Today.