A coronavirus is circulating among New York’s sewer rats, and new research warns of the need to monitor these animals in the face of the danger of causing new outbreaks of the disease in humans, researchers have found.
A new study shows that rats can be infected with alpha, delta, and omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. It was found in specimens living in the sewers and streets of New York City, USA.
This was detailed by a publication in the open access journal mBio belonging to the American Society for Microbiology.
Dr. Henry Wang, the lead author of the study, said: “Our findings highlight the need for increased monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in the rat population for possible zoonotic transmission to humans. I warned you.
“In general, our research in this area shows that animals can play a role in pandemics,” added the professor and director of the Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Missouri.
The finding raises particular concern about the massive rat populations in urban areas, not just in the United States, but around the world. In New York alone, an estimated 8 million of these animals live in the wild and frequently interact with humans.
It’s also not the first time rats with coronavirus have been detected. Two of his previous studies suggested that rats in Hong Kong, China and Belgium may have been exposed to the virus, but it was unclear what subspecies it was.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Tom DeLiberto, said that in September and November 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will capture sewage rats and use them for these purposes.
“Most of the rats were confined to parks in Brooklyn,” he added. In total he had 79 animals studied, of which he was positive in 13 (16.5%).
Therefore, the researchers warned that these animals need to be monitored more closely to prevent them from posing a risk of new outbreaks of disease to humans in the future.