(CMR) Scientists have discovered what may be the latest coronavirus to be passed from animals to people in Malaysia, a recent study has found. The virus identified in hospitalized patients came from an unlikely source, dogs.
In the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, scientists stated that this virus could be the eighth coronavirus known to cause disease in people. In a batch of samples tested last year, they found evidence of the entirely new coronavirus associated with pneumonia in hospitalized patients, mostly in kids.
The samples came from patients at a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia, taken by a collaborator in 2017 and 2018. The samples were collected using deep nasal swabs similar to those used for COVID-19 tests.
The patients had what looked like regular pneumonia. But in eight out of 301 samples tested, or 2.7%, researchers found that the patients' upper respiratory tracts were infected with a new canine coronavirus — a dog virus.
“There's no evidence yet of transmission from human to human,” says virologist Xumin Zhang at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. But it's not known how these patients became infected with the virus or if they had direct contact with infected animals.
NPR explained that over the past 20 years, new coronaviruses have emerged from animals regularly. In 2002, SARS-CoV jumped from civets into people, and ten years later, MERS emerged from camels. Then in 2019, SARS-CoV-2 began to spread around the world.