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Scientific but easy-read news on coronavirus COVID-19 which keeps morphing. It was thought that our pets were safe but viruses are molecules, not living organisms such as bacteria and parasites.

 

 

 

Coronavirus and the Animal-Human Connection

by Fred Lanting, Breeder/Judge/Organic Chemist and SAAB Member

 

This worldwide growing viral problem was thought to be a humans-only problem but a little familiarity with viruses should reduce any feelings you have of being complacent or safe. Viruses are molecules, not living organisms such as bacteria and parasites.

 

 

Semantically, it is not quite accurate to say that viruses “mutate” the way plants and animals do over time or due to crossing-over of chromosomes. Viruses are “organic” in the chemical sense, meaning that they are based on carbon compounds. But they are not “organic” in the inaccurate popular “definition” which non-science-educated people apply to foods that are safe, “natural”, and generally good for us.

 

Viruses occupy a niche in the middle. They are basically macro-molecules, but they also can be modified (mutate), their molecule-chain parts being transposed, rearranged. By having certain groups of atoms displaced to another location on those chains, the reactivity or bio-activity of the “new version” can have greatly different results. Such as being able to affect humans when their predecessor molecules were not.

 

COVID-19, the coronavirus that started to wreak havoc in late 2019, was thought to have originated in a central area of China—Wuhan, in Hubei province, where I have judged dog shows.

 

China’s leaders are secretive about many things, one of which was the origin of coronavirus and an attitude that may have led to the death of the doctor who discovered it. A sizeable percentage of Chinese eat wild things, from shark fins to monkeys to tigers etc.. Some have said that the current disease had been seen in bats or pangolins (a strange-looking Asian animal), as has been reported by National Institute of Health (NIH) {Ref #1}. The virus has been around a long time, but recently mutated to molecules able to bond to the human ACE2 protein and thereby infect us.

 

Theories abound on other recent outbreaks of coronavirus-type disease such as SARS arose from cat-like civets or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from camels. Another theory is that this new coronavirus crossed from animals into humans before it became capable of causing human disease. Then, mutating by evolutionary changes over many years, the virus became able to spread to and via humans and morph into a life-threatening disease.

 

If you read Cross-species Viral Transmission Risks {Ref #2} and Your Dog, Your Health and the 2020 Virus {Ref #3}, you will remember that it was believed cats and dogs could NOT pass the new coronavirus to humans by becoming infected themselves but that they could test positive by temporarily carrying virus particles from their owners. Now, apparently, COVID-19 might have become able to cross species and infect us.

 

On April 5th, News5Cleveland reported the 1st animal-human transmission case {Ref #4} and Live Science reported that half a dozen tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo have been found to be infected and it is believed they were infected by a zoo employee who wasn't yet showing symptoms.

 

This raises new questions about transmission in animals. It is not enough to warn you not to kiss any strange pangolins or tigers or recent immigrants from Wuhan. You need to stop shaking hands or hugging, practice avoidance of crowds, do frequent hand-cleaning, wash fruits and wipe containers brought in from markets, etc.

 

Maybe even tell Fido he’s not to sniff the butts of passing pooches when you walk him in public.

 

Or, take a Russian/Soviet-style approach, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has called fears about the virus a "psychosis" and advised people to instead “hit the sauna and drink vodka.

 

Referenced Information: {1} NIH: natural origin of COVID-19   ~   {2} Cross-species Viral Transmission ~ {3} You, Your Dog and the 2020 Virus   ~   {4} news5cleveland/human-animal transmission

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