Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

This forum is to discuss general things concerning TSOI.
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Re: Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

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Human to animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households is common

4/29/21


(File this under Reverse Zoonosis)

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... ommon.aspx


Coronaviruses are seen in multiple mammalian species. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, is said to have passed to humans from a mammalian source and to have originated from an animal reservoir as a zoonotic pathogen.

Although the virus is spreading from person to person currently, the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor that facilitates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 is present in many species. There are several reports of domestic animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, including cats and dogs. So far, roughly 76 cats and 51 dogs have been reported to have confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by the USDA-APHIS based on antibody or PCR testing.

Workplace SARS-CoV-2 transmission from humans to animals has been documented in zoos and on mink farms. This is in line with previous reports of cats and ferrets infected with SARS-CoV-1 and lab studies showing experimental SARS-CoV-2 infection in non-human primates, hamsters, rabbits, and ferrets. However, not much is known about the frequency and risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission from humans to animals in a household setting.

Community-based study of household pets to assess human to animal SARS-CoV-2 transmission

Researchers from the US recently carried out a community-based study of household pets with one or more confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in humans living in the household.

Data was collected with the help of a survey of human and animal demographics and clinical parameters, human-animal contact, aspects in their shared environment. Blood was collected from the animals to test for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and nasopharyngeal swabs were collected for PCR testing for the virus. The study is published on the bioRxiv* preprint server.

23.7% of the dogs studied had clinical symptoms of COVID-19 and 43.1% had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies

The researchers have reported interim findings from their sampling of dogs. Samples were gathered from 67 dogs in 46 households. Results from nasopharyngeal testing were available for 58 dogs, and serological testing results for 51 dogs. Clinical symptoms of COVID-19 were reported in 14 dogs (23.7%), and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 22 dogs (43.1%). The results of all PCR tests on nasopharyngeal swabs were negative.

Survey results showed that close human-animal contact was common, and most households were aware of and followed measures to minimize human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 after diagnosis. Although there were no statistically significant associations between human-animal contact variables and COVID-19-like illness or seropositivity in dogs, there were positive trends for sharing beds with humans and the number of virus-positive humans in the corresponding household. Measures reportedly taken to mitigate transmission to pets showed a protective trend. A dog with a COVID-19-like illness was also found to be seropositive for the virus.

“These data indicate that human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households is common, in a study population characterized by close human-animal contact.”

Findings show that human-to-animal SARS-CoV-2 transmission in households is quite common

The findings indicate that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from human-to-animal in households is common in a study population with close human-animal contact. They also show that infected pets often show signs of COVID-like disease. Although nasopharyngeal sampling of dogs did not show positive PCR results in this study, it could be because of delays in sampling.

Household members were taking precautions to protect companion animals from SARS-CoV-2 infection, which indicated an opportunity for implementing more measures to decrease transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between humans and animals sharing households.

According to the authors, the study offers important and novel insights into the cross-species transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a household setting. Moreover, human, animal, and environmental data collected during the study represents an accurate One Health approach to this research.

The findings indicate the willingness of households in the study population to adopt strategies to protect their pets from SARS-CoV-2 infection. These measures can effectively prevent household transmission of zoonoses and anthropozoonoses.

“As vaccine roll-out continues and human-to-human transmission wanes, and in preparation for the next pandemic of zoonotic origin, rigorous characterization of the nature of human-animal contact within households, and the implications of this contact for disease transmission, is critical.”

*Important Notice


bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal references:

Household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to dogs in Washington and Idaho: burden and risk factors Julianne Meisner, Timothy V. Baszler, Kathryn H. Kuehl, Vickie Ramirez, Anna Baines, Lauren A. Frisbie, Eric T. Lofgren, David M. DeAvila, Rebecca M. Wolking, Dan S. Bradway, Peter M. Rabinowitz, bioRxiv, 2021.04.24.440952; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.24.440952,
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 4.440952v1
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Re: Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

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Study investigates the level of knowledge of young people and adolescents on "zoonotic diseases"

5/5/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... eases.aspx


The EU-funded BIO-CRIME project - with support from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) - conducted a scientific investigation on the topic of illegal small animal trade and the associated risk of pathogen transmission.

The study focused on the key areas of "illegal small animal trade" and the level of knowledge and proper behaviours of young people and adolescents with "zoonotic diseases" and the "One Health concept". One Health is an approach that recognises that human health is closely linked to the health of animals and our shared environment.

A total of 656 students from six countries participated in the survey. The students answered an anonymous questionnaire, followed by a theoretical and practical lesson that resolved the correct results of the survey. After four weeks - in the meantime the students had further studied the topic of zoonoses and the One Health approach - a second theoretical-practical lesson was conducted. Immediately afterwards, the same questionnaire was answered anonymously a second time.

The result of the first questionnaire response showed that the percentage of students who did not know that animals can transmit many diseases to humans and vice versa was 28.96 %. The percentage of participants who did not know what a zoonosis is was 32.16 %. Ignorance about the One Health concept was 31.40 % among the young people, respectively was answered incorrectly by 59.91 % of the students, furthermore rabies was considered as a non-dangerous disease by 23.02% of the participants.

After the two theoretical-practical lessons of the first survey, the same questionnaire was filled out again to conclude the knowledge transfer process. The result, the percentage of correct answers (knowledge increase) increased by 21.92 %.

Depending on gender and country, there were different expressions in the correctness of the answered questions. Overall, however, a pronounced lack of knowledge about zoonotic risks and a lack of understanding about the contents of the One Health concept were present in more than one third of the participating students in this study.

"This is a public health problem that needs to be addressed. It means that more than one third of the students participating in the study are not aware of the zoonotic risk they run when they come into contact with animals from the illegal small animal trade. Therefore, I recommend that education about zoonotic diseases and the One Health concept be firmly anchored in school curricula and syllabi by means of theoretical-practical teaching units," explains project leader and first author Paolo Zucca, from the Central Directorate for Health, Social Policies and Disabilities, in Italy.

"In Germany, for the practical part of zoonotic disease education in schools, we used Sir Isaac Newton, a research sniffer dog from the Leibniz-IZW, who showed students how dogs can detect illegally hidden animals in luggage," reports Leibniz-IZW scientist Susanne Holtze.

" Our joint international scientific work emphasises the importance of sharing knowledge about zoonotic diseases and the One Health concept among younger generations. The Covid-19 pandemic shows us all that the transmission of diseases from animals to humans is not just mere theory, but a real threat."

- Steven Seet, Study Co-Author and Science Communicator, Leibniz-IZW

More than 60% of the 1,700 known infectious diseases transmissible to humans originate from animals. Repeated and frequent zoonotic outbreaks, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, are caused by human impact on nature. In particular, the creation of huge intensive domestic animal farms, the frequent use of antibiotics in intensive breeding farms, the destruction of forests, the consumption of wild meat (bushmeat), and the "illegal animal trade" are factors that favor the occurrence and transmission of diseases from animals to humans and vice versa.

"Early education and health prevention programmes in schools that explain the interrelationships of zoonoses within the framework of the One Heath concept are a fundamental prerequisite for the health of the population and the prevention of future pandemics," explains Jeannette Wichert, biology and chemistry teacher at the Robert Havemann Gymnasium in Berlin, Germany.

Source:


Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
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Re: Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

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Zoonotic Diseases | Diseases that are Passed from Animals to Humans | MFine

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Re: Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

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How is COVID-19 changing hunting patterns during lockdown in India?

5/20/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... India.aspx


Countries across the world have imposed nationwide lockdowns at various points to contain the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were numerous reports of the lockdowns benefiting wildlife by reducing human movement and habitat disturbance during the anthropause (a term referring specifically to a considerable global slowing of modern human activities). However, increased hunting has emerged as a conservation concern.

To examine the real impact of COVID-19 lockdown on wildlife hunting across India, a team of researchers conducted a study from March-May 2020. Using media reports and online interviews with wildlife researchers, enforcement staff and NGO employees, the research team explored the change in hunting patterns and the socio-economic and institutional factors underlying these changes. A preprint version of the team’s study is available on the bioRxiv* server.

Over half the interviewees perceived increased hunting in general and of mammals in particular. They identified the main motives for hunting during the lockdown to be household consumption, and sport and recreation, followed by trade in local or outside markets. They also found that some reported an increase in medicinal use.

In this study, the team found that the logistical challenges for enforcement, disruption of food supply, and need for recreational opportunities, are key factors associated with hunting during this period.

The researchers also corroborated these findings with statements by experts extracted from media articles. They interviewed wildlife experts and conservation practitioners who were either stationed within focal landscapes themselves or were in touch with colleagues and teams stationed in these landscapes during the lockdown.

" Collectively, our findings suggest that the COVID-19 lockdown potentially increased hunting across much of India, and emphasize the role of livelihood and food security in mitigating threats to wildlife during such periods of acute socioeconomic perturbation.”

Specifically, the team examined perceptions regarding the impact of the lockdown on (1) locations, targeted species, and groups responsible for hunting; (2) motivations and other socio-economic factors associated with hunting; and (3) functioning of wildlife law enforcement and other counter-hunting strategies.

Across African and Asian nations, many cases had been reported that the extraction of natural resources intensified, including wildlife hunting during this lockdown. The researchers cited examples of such reports: illegal hunting and trade of pangolins in India and the critically endangered Giant Ibis in Cambodia. In India, the cases of hunting almost doubled during the pandemic lockdown compared to the pre-pandemic times.

According to the key informants, the researchers found that hunting of mammals, fish and crustaceans and birds was higher during the lockdown, while the hunting of reptiles and amphibians was sparse.

Discussing the causes for increased hunting, the researchers reasoned that the disruption of food supply chains, such as shutting down meat shops, may have increased bushmeat demand. Due to loss of jobs and food insecurity, the lockdown also affected the food purchasing ability of those employed in the unorganized sector.

Though they linked the sport and recreational hunting to the need for a hobby during the lockdown, the researchers acknowledged, “Our understanding of the value and motivation of recreational hunting and its effect on wildlife is still understudied.”

" Together the multitude of reasons related to hunting that unfold in this study highlight the significance of moving away from the notion of a singular mechanistic driver and to better cope with future socio-economic shocks that may result from pandemics, extreme climatic conditions, recessions, war and civil unrest.”

The researchers compared the lockdown-related consequences with that of war and civil strife, where the availability of food rations, essential services, and enforcement agencies such as patrolling officers is hampered. Under such circumstances, the conservation of wildlife is threatened. Therefore, the researchers documented the impacts of COVID-19 lockdown on wildlife hunting so that the insights gained may help conservation practitioners prepare better for future pandemics, lockdowns, and other such socio-economic shocks.

This study highlights how efforts can be put into action to conserve wildlife under extraordinary circumstances and also gain unprecedented mechanistic insight into factuality on the ground. It is imperative that in a COVID-19 world and beyond, alleviating shocks and setbacks will require developing rapid and novel response plans that include wildlife conservation and human-well being around wildlife areas, the researchers emphasize.

*Important Notice

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

Uttara Mendiratta, Munib Khanyari, Nandini Velho, Kulbhushansingh Ramesh Suryawanshi, Nirmal Kulkarni. Key informant perceptions on wildlife hunting in India during the COVID-19 lockdown. bioRxiv 2021.05.16.444344; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.16.444344, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 6.444344v1
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Re: Airborne Dust / Zoonosis / Land Use

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Zoonotic and vector-borne emerging tropical diseases pose a constant threat

5/26/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... hreat.aspx


A recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Tropical Diseases assessed the threat of emerging zoonotic and vector-borne tropical diseases.

This review, which was published as a Specialty Grand Challenge, addresses the challenges, drivers of the emergences, as well as root causes of these tropical diseases in an effort to reduce their impact.

An overview of concerning infectious diseases


Several different infectious diseases impact the health of humans around the world. Some of these diseases include:

Chikungunya
Zika
Yellow Fever
Dengue
Oropouche
Madre de Dios virus
Iquitos virus
Mayaro Fever
Ebola, Nipah virus
Arenaviruses (i.e., Lassa)
Machupo
Chapare
Junin
Zoonotic Malaria
Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome
Plague
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
Acute Orally Transmitted Chagas Disease
Visceral and Diffuse Cutaneous Leishmaniasis
Toxoplasmosis
Tick-borne Diseases
Rift Valley Fever
Tuberculosis
Leprosy
Avian Influenza
Orthohantavirus
Toxocariasis.


In addition to the aforementioned diseases, zoonotic epidemics and pandemic coronaviruses, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and current pandemic, continue to pose a deadly threat to public health.

Aside from the concern that these diseases cause to the general public health, the prevalence of coinfections, such as those between tropical pathogens and COVID-19, is becoming increasingly evident.

There has also been a significant increase in mortality and morbidity rates related to the emergence of infectious diseases - vector-borne, zoonotic, and environmentally transmitted, as well as the effects of environmental alterations, such as climate change.

How can the spread of infectious diseases be mitigated?


Despite the known impacts of these viruses on global health, there remains a lack of necessary funding opportunities and, as a result, an urgent need for extensive research in emerging tropical diseases. As the world is no longer a place of distant countries and shielded territories, the authors reasoned that the health status of the underprivileged does not only alter their lives and development but extends to those residing in wealthier areas. As a result, a new funding paradigm is needed, one that combines both advanced research with technological solutions.

One example that was referenced was the Ebola crisis in 2014. During this crisis, it became evident how high-consequence emerging diseases could spill over to Europe and North America. Likewise, the ongoing 2020-2021 pandemic of the pervasive COVID-19 has spread to almost every country across the world, even reaching as far as Antarctica.

Some of the available tools to counteract emerging infectious diseases include active surveillance (also by artificial intelligence) and rapid identification of novel pathogens by genome sequencing and phylogenetic tracing studies.

More specifically, these studies use computing methods that predict interspecies barriers that may spill over between human and animal populations. Taken together, the coupling of biotechnological approaches and social sciences appears to be a critical element for studying emerging infectious diseases.

The complexity and heterogeneity of many tropical infectious diseases remain a challenge in fully understanding the diseases themselves.

Designing proposed interventions, including multilevel eco-epidemiological studies ranging from molecular and omics to satellite epidemiology of pathogens, vectors, hosts, abiotic variables, as well as examining other socio-environmental factors, are some of the steps that are needed to better approach these diseases.

Vaccine development is also a significant arm in mitigating the transmission and severity of these diseases.

Importantly, the authors clarified that “Tropical Medicine is no more a clinical specialty of ‘exotic diseases,’ as it was conceived at its beginnings, and is no more about diseases for those entering the jungle.”

Increases in epidemics in cities are a reminder of the drastic changes in diseases over the past century. Notably, tropical diseases also include non-infectious diseases, such as animal bites and stings like snake bites, scorpion stings, and spider bites.

Aside from the factors mentioned above, integrating the expertise of the various specialists is of utmost importance in mitigating tropical diseases. These include public health experts, veterinarians, entomologists, and parasitologists, as their knowledge is required to face these new challenges and transform the outcomes of tropical diseases.

The future ahead


In conclusion, the authors described how we are “living on the edge” - the edge of neglect and a surge of many emerging infectious diseases with no hope for resolution in the foreseeable future.

Factors such as poverty, inequality, climate change, deforestation, migration, urbanization, and wildlife trade, to name a few, have contributed to the emergence of novel tropical diseases and the resurgence of other endemic diseases.

“Research in Zoonotic and Vector-Borne Emerging Tropical Diseases remains the most critical aspect and the foundation to determine the drivers of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.”

With the high possibility of another epidemic/pandemic in the near future, the authors of this study, all of whom are editors of Frontiers in Tropical Diseases, introduce a new section of the journal known as Emerging Tropical Diseases. The aim of Emerging Tropical Diseases is to help contribute to scientific advancements and fill in the numerous knowledge gaps that exist for many of these tropical diseases through a multi- and transdisciplinary approach.

The authors invite the general public to address this constant threat and begin submitting their work to the new section of Frontiers in Tropical Diseases.

Journal reference:


Rodriguez-Morales, A.J., Paniz-Mondolfi, A. E., Faccini-Martínez Á. A., et al. (2021). The Constant Threat of Zoonotic and Vector-Borne Emerging Tropical Diseases: Living on the Edge. Frontiers in Tropical Diseases 2. doi:10.3389/fitd.2021.676905, ​https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10 ... 76905/full.
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Coronavirus strain associated with dogs found in humans

6/2/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... umans.aspx


Coronavirus strain associated with dogs found in swabs taken from pneumonia patients in Malaysia.

Several pneumonia patients in Malaysia's Sarawak state have tested positive for a coronavirus strain associated with dogs, according to a study.

Genome sequencing of the coronavirus identified it as a novel canine-feline recombinant alphacoronavirus, which was named CCoV-HuPn-2018. The study, published May in Clinical Infectious Diseases, says it is the first to report this type of coronavirus being detected in a human pneumonia patient.

CCoV-HuPn-2018, if confirmed as a pathogen, may be the eighth unique coronavirus that can make humans ill.

Coronaviruses already known to infect humans include SARS-CoV-1, known to cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an outbreak of which occurred in 2002— 2004; MERS-CoV, which causes the Middle East respiratory syndrome, first detected in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

All these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can jump from animals to humans. SARS-CoV-1 is suspected to have jumped to humans from bats or civets, MERS-CoV from camels and SARS-CoV-2 from bats or minks.

Samples taken in 2017— 2018 from eight of 301 hospitalised patients tested positive for the CCoV-HuPn-2018 coronavirus strain. Of these eight patients, seven were less than five years old, lived in rural areas and were frequently exposed to animals, both wild and domesticated. Most belonged to one of several indigenous ethnic groups in Sarawak. All patients recovered after four to six days in hospital.

There are various unknowns about the virus at this stage, says Gregory Gray, an author of the study and infectious diseases professor at the Global Health Institute, Duke University, US. These include how domesticated animals such as dogs and cats can get infected with a coronavirus strain, how they can infect humans, and whether human-to-human transmission is possible.

According to Gray, what is important is that these coronaviruses may be spilling over to humans from animals much more frequently than is known. "We are proposing future epidemiological studies to answer such questions," Gray tells SciDev.Net.

"Our findings underscore the public health threat of animal coronaviruses and a need to conduct better surveillance for them," the researchers wrote in the study. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have crown-like spikes on their surface.

In a press release issued by Duke University, Gray emphasized the importance of using diagnostic tools to enable early detection to arrest the spread of infections. "These pathogens don't just cause a pandemic overnight. It takes many years for them to adapt to the human immune system and cause infection, and then to become efficient in human-to-human transmission. We need to look for these pathogens and detect them early."

The research team used a powerful molecular diagnostic tool, which can detect most coronaviruses, including currently unknown ones. Gray tells SciDev.Net that they have already "published the methods and diagnostic companies may develop commercial kits".

Keith Hamilton, head of the Preparedness and Resilience Department at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), agrees that innovations have made it easier for scientists to detect viruses. "Major advancements in detection and analytical technologies over the past couple of decades are allowing scientists to detect, characterize and track viruses much more easily," he says.

However, Hamilton notes that the study is inconclusive. "The finding of genetic material belonging to this virus in the nasopharyngeal swabs of the patients does not in itself prove that infection with this virus caused the pneumonia. Additionally, the paper does not present any evidence for human-to-human transmission."

He also tells SciDev.Net that there is a difference between CCoV-HuPn-2018 and the coronaviruses that caused SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. "SARS-CoV-2, MERS and SARS belong to the genera of betacoronaviruses, whilst the virus discussed in the study appears to be a member of the genera alphacoronaviruses, so it is not closely related to MERS, SARS or SARS-CoV-2."

Nonetheless, Hamilton says that studies such as this can help provide a clearer picture of the relationship between coronaviruses and hosts, along with environmental factors that can affect this interaction. "Such findings do highlight the potential value of surveillance and research to better understand the behavior of coronaviruses at the human-animal-environmental interface."

" This research cannot conclusively show the source of human infections, but it is likely to be dogs."

- Sarah Caddy, veterinarian and viral immunologist, University of Cambridge

Caddy says there is no evidence of the canine coronavirus spreading. "There are several infections that can pass between dogs and humans, but generally these are rare," she says. "Following good hygiene around our pets, e.g. washing hands after patting, is always a good idea regardless."

Source:

SciDev.Net
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Study could help scientists, policymakers communicate about zoonotic diseases

6/3/21

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... eases.aspx


A new study from North Carolina State University found that certain types of messages could influence how people perceive information about the spread of diseases from wildlife to humans.

The researchers say the findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Communication, could help scientists, policymakers and others more effectively communicate with diverse audiences about zoonotic diseases and the role of wildlife management in preventing them from spreading to people. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that originate in wildlife and become infectious to people.

If we want to prevent and mitigate the next giant zoonotic disease, we need people to recognize these diseases can emerge from their interactions with wildlife. We have to do better with how we interact with wildlife. We also have to do better in terms of our communication, so people recognize the root of the problem. We need to learn how to communicate with people about zoonotic diseases and wildlife trade across partisan divides."

Nils Peterson, Study Co-Author and Professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University

In the study, researchers surveyed 1,554 people across the United States to understand whether they would see greater acceptance of scientific information about zoonotic diseases - specifically in regard to the potential role of wildlife trade in the origin and spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 - depending on how they structured their messaging. Scientists from the World Health Organization concluded in a report earlier this year that evidence points to a likely animal origin. One group of scientists has recently called for more clarity.

In the experiment, study participants were asked to read one of three articles. One article used a "technocratic" frame that emphasized the use of technology and human ingenuity to address diseases from wildlife, such as using monitoring and culling of animals with diseases. This frame was designed to appeal to people with an "individualistic" worldview. A second article had a "regulatory frame" that emphasized using land conservation to create wildlife refuges as a solution. This frame was designed to appeal to people with a "communitarian" view. The third article was designed as a control, and was intended to be neutral.

Researchers then asked all of the participants to read part of an article that researchers wrote about COVID-19 and the potential role of wildlife trade in its origin and spread, and asked them about their perceived validity of the information. Researchers also surveyed participants about their trust in science overall, and belief in COVID-19's wildlife origin.

"Past research suggests people process and filter information through their cultural lens, or based on how they think the society should function," said the study's lead author Justin Beall, a graduate student in parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. "We wanted to know, in the domain of zoonotic disease management, what are the solutions for managing diseases that might align with different cultural values in the United States? Would using those perspectives impact how people accepted scientific information about the wildlife origin of COVID-19?"

Researchers found that people who identified as liberal reported higher perceived risk on average from COVID-19. They were also more likely to accept evidence for the wildlife origin of COVID-19 and support restrictions on wildlife trade.

When researchers considered the link between message frames and participants' acceptance of the information about COVID-19 and the potential role of wildlife trade in its origin and spread, they found liberals who received the technocratic framing were significantly less likely to find the information valid, while conservatives were slightly more likely to find it valid. They didn't see any statistically significant relationship between the "regulatory" framing and participants' acceptance of the information.

"The findings show us that cultural views are relevant for communicating about wildlife disease," Beall said. "We found that the technocratic viewpoint might be more polarizing."

That suggests that for communicating to a diverse public audience about zoonotic disease and wildlife trade, communicators should avoid using the technocratic frame. However, when communicators are speaking to a conservative audience, they could consider using the technocratic frame to increase acceptance.

Researchers underscored the importance of the findings for conveying the idea that the health of humans, wildlife and the environment are connected.

"We all exist in this giant ecosystem, and disease is part of it," said study co-author Lincoln Larson, associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. "If we're talking about the health of humans, we're talking about the health of wildlife and ecosystems simultaneously. It's critical to develop effective communication strategies that resonate with ideologically diverse audiences and lead to bipartisan support and action."

"Improving communication and framing around zoonotic disease could help to prevent the next global pandemic, and that's a message everyone can get behind," he added.

Source:

North Carolina State University

Journal reference:

Beall, J. M., et al. (2021) Cultural Cognition and Ideological Framing Influence Communication About Zoonotic Disease in the Era of COVID-19. Frontiers in Communication. doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2021.645692.
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Risk of SARS-CoV-2 spread to bats

6/4/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... -bats.aspx


Since the onset of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the potential for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to establish infection in animal hosts has been a pressing concern. Understanding the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in animals is necessary to prevent the outbreak of wildlife diseases. Furthermore, the potential for the virus to find a reservoir host is also concerning, as this could lead to the continuous spread of SARS-CoV-2 back into human beings.

A recent bioRxiv* preprint offers a powerful risk assessment approach to estimate the risk of bat exposure to SARS-CoV-2 from humans during their interactions in the wild.

Background

Early on in the pandemic, it became necessary to consider the safety of wildlife that is in constant contact with humans, particularly researchers and caretakers.

During this time, the wildlife management authorities issued a risk evaluation of how likely it was that bats in the wild would acquire the infection from humans. Bats were of interest, as the most closely related strain of a SARS-like virus was detected in the Chinese horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis).

This evaluation was based on the limited knowledge available at the time, the judgment of experts in this area, decision analysis, and a framework to rapidly make use of all available information to arrive at appropriate decisions.

As more data on SARS-CoV-2 continued to be released, the evaluation of the risks to bats was repeated in the fall of 2020 and again in the current study, thereby making this the third in this series. This paradigm will undoubtedly continue to be useful going forward, as new information on the wildlife transmission of coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 emerges.

Building a strategy

During the first evaluation, the only alternatives that presented themselves to natural resource managers were to allow practices to continue with few additional restrictions, stop all work that could possibly present a higher risk, or implement mitigative actions. It was imperative that the selected choice was supported by evidence-backed data.

However, at that point, there were many unknowns surrounding SARS-CoV-2, including the susceptible bat species, the pathways of transmission, and the changes that various interactions present in terms of exposure and transmission risk.

This new strategy was built on a clear definition of the aims of the wildlife agency, which were then used to develop appropriate quantitative risk models that utilized all available data. Expert judgments were made based on the Investigate, Discuss, Estimate, Aggregate (IDEA) protocol, which included a panel of experts specializing in various fields related to wildlife and bat biology. This reliance was particularly important at these early stages of the pandemic, as there was limited information available on SARS-CoV-2.

Early days

The first assessment was carried out in April 2020, which aimed to evaluate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 spreading to North American bats during summer activities. Several agencies were involved in assessing the vulnerability of a small brown bat known as Myotis lucifugus.

This risk assessment was built around research, survey, monitoring and management (RSM), wildlife rehabilitation (WR), as well as wildlife control (WC) activities during the spring and summer in North America.

When this work began, ongoing research on a fungal disease that had reduced the number of these bats by 90% was being conducted. These studies, therefore, required scientists to go into the immediate vicinity of these bats.

Secondly, bats had to be kept out of or removed from houses as part of WC, whereas injured bats were to be cared for as part of WR.

The conclusion was that there was a real risk of viral spread from humans to bats and that the proper use of N95 respirators and personal protective equipment (PPE) would mitigate the risk.

The winter assessment

A later assessment on the risk of viral spread during WR in the winter, which is when most activities occur in enclosed surroundings, was conducted to assess whether this season increased the possibility of exposing bats to virus-laden aerosols.

By then, data on the reduction of virus emissions by the use of face masks were widely accepted by the public. The scientists also knew more about how susceptible different species of bats were to the virus.

Several virus challenges in bats had been carried out, and the bat cell angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, to which the virus binds, had been sequenced. Overall, the experts concluded that several species of bats were at low risk for viral transmission, leading to a new strategy for when scientists work with bats during the winter months.

The third round

With plenty of new data published on viral shedding in humans under a variety of circumstances, combined with the widespread availability of COVID-19 testing to ensure that a human is negative prior to interacting with bats, a new round of decision making began.

For RSM, the first-round estimate for the median exposed number during handling was 50 for every 100 bats that would come into contact with the scientists. Of these, it was estimated that less than 20% (median) of bats would be exposed to enclosed spaces if they encountered an infected individual within six feet. Comparatively, in open spaces, this risk was believed to be 6%.

For WR activities, the median exposed proportion was 70% and 24% while handling and within six feet of an infected WR staff person, respectively. The least exposure was during WC, with a median of 28% and 10% in similar surroundings, respectively.

Current exposure estimates

With the new data, the median exposed number declined by 88%, from 7 in every 1,000 during RSM to less than 1. Similarly, for WR and WC, the median number of exposed bats was reduced to 1.6 and 0.5 from 13 and 4, respectively.

These numbers continued to decrease as the prevalence of COVID-19 also reduced from 0.05 through 0.01 to 0.001. At a very low prevalence, the median risk for infected bats per 1,000 encountered fell to 0.015 for RSM, 0.03 for WR, and 0.008 for WC.

This data shows the utility of vaccination in reducing the infection rates, even though the duration of immunity and its efficacy against the newer variants of concern remains unclear.

Mitigation measures

Prior to any interaction with potentially susceptible bats, the researchers recommend COVID-19 testing in addition to properly wearing PPE during such interactions.

The use of PPE reduced median estimates of infection by up to 99% with N95 masks, 89% with surgical masks, 50% with cloth masks, and 24% with face shields, in all types of bat encounters. COVID-19 testing before the bat-human encounters reduced the median estimate of infected bats by up to 67%.

What are the implications?

The data discussed here reduced the number of uncertainties surrounding the susceptibility of bats to acquiring SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, these studies significantly reduced the risk that the bats would acquire SARS-CoV-2 and also allowed alternative management options to be presented. This framework of decision-making was robustly and constantly useful across all three assessments, and will likely remain in place when other similar studies of wildlife disease are conducted.

The ability to estimate the risk allows different options to be chosen depending on the situation, with all options reducing the risk below that which is acceptable for the agency’s objectives. For instance, given the unexpected calls for WR or WC, prior COVID-19 testing may be impossible. In this type of situation, other suitable measures may be used confidently.

“[Expert judgment] It allowed us to rapidly integrate the best available science and knowledge and provide guidance to managers dealing with uncertain but immediate risks to North American bats.”

Though the agencies were kept informed about the results of each assessment, the official publication often appeared after 6-12 weeks of when the studies were completed. This type of delay in data acquisition can cause problems for any agency looking to convince the public of the science-based rationale for its decisions.

The authors, therefore, called attention to the need to expedite the peer-review and publication process when faced with time-critical studies, as they are essential in guiding the public on important precautions and interventions that must be followed in order to reduce the risk to the bats.

*Important notice

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

Cook, J. D. Grant, E. H. C., Coleman, J. T. H., et al. (2021). Evaluating the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to bats using a decision analytical framework. bioRxiv preprint. doi:10.1101/2021.05.28.446020. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 8.446020v1.
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SARS-CoV-2 infection detected in a poodle living with a COVID-19 positive family

6/11/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... mbers.aspx


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), first emerged in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. The virus is thought to have originated in horseshoe bats and jumped to as yet unverified intermediate hosts before spilling over to human hosts – a process known as zoonosis.

Now, researchers in Italy identified a case of reverse zoonosis wherein animals contract the virus from humans. The team detected SARS-CoV-2 in a healthy poodle living with four family members who had COVID-19.

The study, published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, highlights the need to monitor cases involving human-to-animal viral transmission.

Human to animal transmission

Over the past year, some cases of human to animal SARS-CoV-2 transmission have been reported. These involved companion animals like dogs and cats, big cats, mink on farms, gorillas, and few other mammals.

Most of these animals were in close contact with infected humans in homes or in zoos and sanctuaries. However, only rare cases were reported in cats and dogs, making them at low risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

It is crucial to monitor infections in animals to shed light on their epidemiological significance for animal and human health. Evidence from epidemiological investigations, experimental studies, and risk assessment show that animals do not play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is sustained predominantly by human-to-human transmission.

Infected dog

In the latest report of human to animal transmission, a 1.5-year-old female poodle who lived with four family members in Bitonto, Italy, contracted SARS-CoV-2. All family members developed signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, and loss of smell and taste.

The family members collected oral and nasal swab samples from the dog on November 4, 2020. The pooled samples tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 via the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, which was selective for the N gene.

Over the next 11 days, the owners collected oral, nasal, and rectal samples from the dog. Of the 20 samples collected between November 6 and 15, four samples, which were all collected between November 6 and 9, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Though the dog tested positive, it exhibited no symptoms.

Next, the team tested a serum sample collected by the veterinarian on November 27 with two commercial multispecies ELISA tests. Further, a plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) and a virus neutralization test (VNT) were performed.

From there, the team used serologic assays to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. They also used next-generation sequencing genomes, and complete genomes were obtained using the pipeline SARS-CoV-2 RECoVERY.

The team identified two strains within the GV Clade and the B.1.177 lineage, which was detected in Italy during that period.

In a nutshell, the team concluded that infection in dogs and other animals is scarce, reflecting their low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. In the current case, the dog was asymptomatic, produced limited titers, and had a reduced duration of viral shedding.

" Delayed sampling of animals, caused by restrictions on human and animal movement during the pandemic, probably contributed to the negative results of molecular testing in that study,” the team emphasized.

Journal reference:

Decaro, N., Vaccari, G., Lorusso, A. et al. (2021). Possible Human-to-Dog Transmission of SARS-CoV-2, Italy, 2020. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Emerging Infectious Diseases. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2707.204959, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/27/7/20-4959_article
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New AI model could help predict which viruses are likely to spread from animals to humans

6/15/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... umans.aspx


A new model that applies artificial intelligence to carbohydrates improves the understanding of the infection process and could help predict which viruses are likely to spread from animals to humans. This is reported in a recent study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg.

Carbohydrates participate in nearly all biological processes - yet they are still not well understood. Referred to as glycans, these carbohydrates are crucial to making our body work the way it is supposed to. However, with a frightening frequency, they are also involved when our body does not work as intended. Nearly all viruses use glycans as their first contact with our cells in the process of infection, including our current menace SARS-CoV-2, causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

A research group led by Daniel Bojar, assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg, has now developed an artificial intelligence-based model to analyze glycans with an unprecedented level of accuracy. The model improves the understanding of the infection process by making it possible to predict new virus-glycan interactions, for example between glycans and influenza viruses or rotaviruses: a common cause for viral infections in infants.

As a result, the model can also lead to a better understanding of zoonotic diseases, where viruses spread from animals to humans.

"With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, we have seen the potentially devastating consequences of viruses jumping from animals to humans. Our model can now be used to predict which viruses are particularly close to "jumping over". We can analyze this by seeing how many mutations would be necessary for the viruses to recognize human glycans, which increases the risk of human infection. Also, the model helps us predict which parts of the human body are likely targeted by a potentially zoonotic virus, such as the respiratory system or the gastrointestinal tract", says Daniel Bojar, who is the main author of the study.

In addition, the research group hopes to leverage the improved understanding of the infection process to prevent viral infection. The aim is to use the model to develop glycan-based antivirals, medicines that suppress the ability of viruses to replicate.

"Predicting virus-glycan interactions means we can now search for glycans that bind viruses better than our own glycans do, and use these "decoy" glycans as antivirals to prevent viral infection. However, further advances in glycan manufacturing are necessary, as potential antiviral glycans might include diverse sequences that are currently difficult to produce", Daniel Bojar says.

He hopes the model will constitute a step towards including glycans in approaches to prevent and combat future pandemics, as they are currently neglected in favor of molecules that are simpler to analyze, such as DNA.

"The work of many groups in recent years has really revolutionized glycobiology and I think we are finally at the cusp of using these complex biomolecules for medical purposes. Exciting times are ahead," says Daniel Bojar.

Source:

University of Gothenburg
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