COVID-infected hamsters in pet shop trigger animal cull in Hong Kong
Authorities in Hong Kong are organizing to cull close to 2,000 small animals just after a pet retail store worker and quite a few imported hamsters tested optimistic for COVID-19, in accordance to a report by the Linked Press.
On Monday, the pet retail store staff analyzed constructive and was found to be contaminated with the delta coronavirus variant. A number of hamsters in the store, which had lately been imported from the Netherlands, were also positive. The city, meanwhile, has been grappling with an outbreak of COVID-19 circumstances brought on by the omicron variant.
It can be unclear if the pet store conditions are connected and, if they are, if the worker was contaminated by the hamsters or vice versa. But Hong Kong authorities say they won’t be able to exclude the chance that the hamsters unfold the virus to the worker. As such, they aren’t using any chances.
Authorities halted all income of hamsters in the town as properly as the import of hamsters and other compact animals, these as chinchillas. All over 2,000 compact animals presently in Hong Kong will be humanely culled to reduce transmission of the pandemic virus.
In the meantime, men and women who bought pet hamsters in the city due to the fact December 22 must go through tests. If their animals take a look at good, they should go into quarantine.
At a news meeting, Hong Kong health official Leung Siu-fai advised: “If you own a hamster, you should really preserve your hamsters at property, do not acquire them out. All pet owners need to observe great private hygiene, and just after you have been in get in touch with with animals and their meals, you really should clean your fingers.” He also encouraged house owners to “not kiss your animals.”
In a press briefing Tuesday, officials with the Globe Health and fitness Firm addressed the hamster conditions, saying that “the chance remains lower” that animals are acquiring contaminated from individuals and then transmitting the virus back again to persons at considerable charges.
“But it is some thing that we are consistently looking at,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 complex direct, said in the briefing. As the virus circulates, it can continue to infect individuals and animals, “so this is a thing we have to have far better surveillance on.”
It is really now very clear that several animal species can come to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and possibly serve as a reservoir for variants that could threaten to soar back to humans at any time. In 2020, Denmark’s govt built the controversial decision to cull 17 million mink just after the farmed animals were being found to harbor a SARS-CoV-2 variant.
In the US, numerous reports have documented common SARS-CoV-2 transmission in wild deer populations, as properly as in farmed mink. Domesticated pets, such as puppies and cats, are recognized to be at danger of getting COVID-19 from their owners. Some zoo animals are equally at risk.
For now, health and fitness officers are far more focused on transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people. But there is bubbling concern about animal reservoirs, especially amid the increase of omicron. The ultratransmissible variant speedily elevated concern between professionals due to the fact it initial appeared with a startlingly significant quantity of mutations—many of which experienced not previously been observed in variants known to be circulating in people.
Omicron’s sudden appearance elevated concerns—and hypotheses—that the variant originated in an animal reservoir, exclusively mice. The contemplating goes that people experienced unfold SARS-CoV-2 to wild mice, which then circulated the virus around a period of time of time. There, the virus adapted to its new host and picked up a wide range of novel mutations prior to leaping back to human beings.
For now, it is really just a hypothesis—and not automatically the main one particular. Several scientists say that a a lot more very likely explanation for omicron’s origin is an immunocompromised human being. In this circumstance, an immunocompromised man or woman may perhaps have harbored an an infection in excess of a lengthy time period. That gave the virus a lot of time to be uncovered to many feeble immune responses and adapt to avert them, therefore evolving into a far more harmful foe to people in general. These types of extended infections in immunocompromised people today are the primary hypotheses for the development of new variants in normal.
But the most recent problems about pet hamsters is possible to retain some notice on the likely threat of animal reservoirs of the pandemic virus.