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Viruses more likely than humans to spread to animals: Study | health news


Humans have never been considered the source of the virus, and human-to-animal transmission of the virus has received much less attention, an analysis of the viral genome by researchers at University College London reveals.

“When animals acquire the virus from humans, it can not only harm the animal and pose a potential conservation threat to the species, but also affect food security if large numbers of livestock need to be killed to prevent it. can cause problems. Pandemics, as has been happening with the H5N1 bird flu strain in recent years,” said lead author Cedric Tan, a doctoral student at UCL’s Institute of Genetics and the Francis Crick Institute.

“Furthermore, if a human-carried virus infects a new animal species, the virus may grow even after being eliminated in humans, or even evolve new adaptations so that it infects humans again.

“Understanding how and why viruses jump to different hosts across the broad tree of life can help us understand how new viral diseases emerge in humans and animals,” Tan said.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the team used systematic tools to analyze nearly 12 million viral genomes.

Using the data, they also reconstructed the evolutionary history and past host jumps of viruses across 32 viral families to search for viral genomes that acquired mutations during host jumps.

The researchers found that “approximately twice as many host jumps were predicted from humans to other animals (known as anthroponosis) than the other way around. This pattern was consistent across most of the viral families considered. Additionally, they found more animal-to-animal host jumps that doesn’t involve people.”

“We should consider ourselves a node in a vast network of hosts constantly exchanging pathogens, rather than a sink for zoonotic bugs,” said co-author Professor Francois Balloux of the UCL Genetics Institute.

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