From Cats And Dogs To Minks And Mice, Covid-19 Variants Are Infecting The Ecosystem

To witness a dog come down with Covid-19 is a curious thing. Though mine have been spared, I have a friend whose two dogs got sick in addition to the rest of their family. In videos my friend sent me, I could see the dogs were lethargic, sneezy, and seemingly suffering. While most of the domestic pets that tested positive for the disease last year didn’t exhibit symptoms like theirs, those that did mirrored the mild infections we experience as humans, tiring easily and developing colds.

The good news is that my friend’s dogs made a smooth recovery. (So did their family members.) The not-so-good news is that new variants of SARS-CoV-2, which we now know are more infectious and more dangerous than the original strain, might have adapted to animals as well as they’ve adapted to us—our favorite household pets included. While the original strain was already capable of infecting enough animal species to fill Noah’s ark—among them minks, ferrets, weasels, dogs, lions, tigers, and cats, oh my—the new variants are even more adventurous, finding a home in an even larger range of animal hosts. According to new studies, the animals that were vulnerable to the original strain may also be at greater risk of getting sick from the new variants.

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Originally published on Forbes (March 26, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.