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Covid-19: a new variant has been discovered in New York sewer rats, according to a study

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A new study conducted by various American university scientists has revealed the existence of a new variant of the coronavirus in rats housed in the sewers of New York City (United States). The latter could have been infected by the water or the excrement present in the waste water.

But what worries these researchers today is that this new strain could be transmitted by rats to humans. As may have been the case during major past epidemics, explains the Dailymail.

In this study published on February 3 in the journal Nature, the researchers explain how they sequenced the city’s wastewater in depth. At the end of their research, different strains of covid-19 were discovered, some from humans and others non-human, one of which would have come from rats.

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“We have never detected any living virus in the wastewater. But given the volume of sewage and the number of rats, it is certainly possible that they were infected in this way, ”explained John Dennehy, co-author of the study and virologist at Queensborough.

Transmissible to humans?

While proof of circulation in rats has yet to be established, “one of the amino acid changes that we see in the virus was not seen in patients. Never. But this amino acid change was observed in a rodent-adapted virus,” explained one of the study authors.

For these scientists, the next variant could therefore emerge in rats first. “The observation is consistent with the possibility that these lineages were derived from an animal host such as a rodent,” the study concluded.

And that worries researchers because when a virus finds its way to wild animals like bats, birds and pigs, they have the ability to then transmit the virus to humans.

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