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Rats in New York City can carry Covid variants: Study

New York City rats can also be the carriers of Covid, a study showed. The study which was released in mBio- an open-access journal of the American for Microbiology- noted that New York rats are susceptible to three Covid variants. New York City has an estimated rat population of 8 million, Hindustan Times reported.

The study warned that infected wild rats have “ample opportunities” to interact with humans, a reminder of the Black Death which affected Europe from 1347-1351 as the virus spread to humans through some rodents. Although, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that animal-to-human transmission of Covid is rare.

The risk of the virus “in rat populations to determine if the virus is circulating in the animals and evolving into new strains that could pose a risk to humans”, said Dr Henry Wan, director of the Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Disease at the University of Missouri, said.

The rats were captured mostly from parks in Brooklyn in and around locations that were surrounded by wastewater systems, they added.

Of 79 rats, 13 tested positive for Covid, the researchers found. “Overall, our work in this space shows that animals can play a role in pandemics that impact humans and it’s important that we continue to increase our understanding so we can protect both human and animal health,” the researchers said.

Earlier, studies on rats in Hong Kong and Belgium found that they were exposed to the virus behind Covid, however the studies were inconclusive with respect to the variant.

Source: Hindustan Times