Are animals capable of transmitting COVID-19 to humans? Scientists are working to discover.

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota want to establish a connection between wildlife and the pandemic. They are trying find out how common COVID-19 in wildlife is and whether coronavirus might be spreading from humans to animals.

“We are testing samples from wild animals collected from the northern part of the state, northwest part of the state, for evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19,” explained Matthew Aliota, an assistant professor in the department of veterinary and biomedical sciences at the University of Minnesota. 

“We just recently began this project looking at COVID in wildlife as a potential reservoir for wildlife human transmission,” said Dr. Seth Moore, the director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

“Our potential interactions with wildlife species, and with new species of wildlife species, are increasing like never before.” Aliota said. “These are the scenarios that humans create.

Animals are subject to the same terrifying test that humans undergo to check for coronavirus: the nasal sweep. The test is performed by a team of wildlife specialists and scientists who slog through the snow.

Members of the team have to be fully vaccinated, boosted and tested regularly in order to ensure safety for both them and their animals.

Scientists have yet to agree on the origins and mechanisms of COVID-19 despite numerous theories of animal to person transmission. But studies may shed more light on how the virus works, and how humans can protect wildlife and themselves.

 

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