From the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, scientists have been searching for the identification of the source species, and they understand how the current coronavirus has first burst from the animal hosts through humans.
COVID-19 could have been transmitted to humans by stray dogs –specifically dog intestines – which had eaten bat meat, according to a study, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
The disease may have rapidly evolved in the intestines of dogs that consumed bats carrying an ancestor coronavirus.
“Our observations have allowed the formation of a new hypothesis for the origin and initial transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” said study researcher Xuhua Xia from the University of Ottawa in Canada.
“The ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 and its nearest relative, a bat coronavirus, infected the intestine of canids, most likely resulting in the rapid evolution of the virus in canids and its jump into humans. This suggests the importance of monitoring SARS-like coronaviruses in feral dogs in the fight against SARS-CoV-2,” Xia elaborated.
Xia has long-studied the molecular signatures of viruses in different hosts.
When viruses invade a host, their genomes often bear the battle scars from fighting off and evading the host’s immune system through changes and adaptations found within their genomes.
Humans and mammals have a key antiviral sentinel protein, called ZAP, which can stop a virus in its tracks by preventing its multiplication in the host and degrading its genome.