There is a type of coronavirus that is affecting pigs that can be transmitted to other animals and even to humans. The virus, called SADS-CoV, appeared in China and has been affecting pigs since 2016, but in the last week, researchers at the University of North Carolina in the United States have discovered a strain of the virus that can infect humans.
According to the study, released on October 12, on the website Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America, the virus, whose symptoms are characterized by violent gastrointestinal disorders, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and can be deadly in piglets, can be replicated efficiently in human liver and intestine cells, but also in cells in the airways.
There are no reported cases in humans, so the effects of the disease on people are still unknown.
So far, it is known that it is an alpha-choronavirus, from the same family as SARS-CoV-2, which causes breathing problems. Diarrhea and vomiting are the most common symptoms in pigs, affecting their offspring more violently than adult animals. It will even be responsible for the death of 90% of infected piglets.
According to American scientists, the virus is more likely to pass from animals to humans through contact, so pig farmers and pig farmers are at greater risk.
While many researchers focus on the emerging potential of beta-choronaviruses like SARS and MERS, alpha-choronaviruses can be equally worrying for human health ”, said Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina School of Global Public Health.
Although there are no recorded cases to date, experts fear the possibility of a new pandemic emerging, as the study by Caitlin Edwards, an expert at the University of North Carolina, points out.
Caitlin Edwards’ research tested several types of cells, infecting them with a synthetic form of SADS-CoV to understand how they would behave. The results indicate that a large number of mammalian cells, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Cells found mainly in the tissues of the human lungs and intestines.
It is impossible to predict whether this virus could emerge and infect human populations. However, the wide range of SADS-CoV hosts, together with the ability to replicate in the primary human lung and enteric cells, demonstrates the potential risk for future emergency events in human and animal populations ”, says Caitlin Edwards, cited by several international media.
The expert believes that group immunity may not be a good strategy to quell this virus, since there is no vaccine yet. Therefore, scientists are betting on a cure in case of infection and are studying the effectiveness of a possible use of remdesivir, used to fight all known coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV2.