New York’s rats are infected with Corona: Source for new variants?

The rats of New York City are infected with Sars-Cov-2 viruses of the alpha, delta and omicron variants. This is the result of a study published in the journal “mBio‘ by the American Society for Microbiology, a research team led by Henry Wan from the University of Missouri.

“Our results underscore the need for further surveillance of Sars-Cov-2 in rat populations for possible secondary zoonotic transmission to humans,” Wan said.

Most of the rats studied were trapped in parks in the Brooklyn borough. Samples were taken from 79 for virological studies and genome sequencing. 13 of them (16.5 percent) were positive for Sars-Cov-2. This is the first time it has been shown that Sars-Cov-2 variants can cause infections in the wild rat population of a large urban region in the United States, says Wan.

Further laboratory investigations by the research team revealed that rats are infectable with alpha, delta and omicron variants.

To determine whether the viruses can circulate in the animals and develop into new strains that could pose a risk to humans, the rat population needs to be monitored, Wan says. (skb)

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