According to scientists, these viruses are likely to spread more epidemics later
SARS-CoV-2 is just one example of thousands of viruses that are likely to spread from the animal kingdom to humans.
A new online tool has identified the virus by its potential to jump from animal to human and cause epidemics.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the latest pathogen to "spread" from animals to humans, but thousands of other viruses lurking in animals could pose a similar threat. Now, a new online tool has identified viruses from animals to humans and the possibility of an epidemic.
This tool, known as a spillover, originally created a "watch list" of newly discovered animal viruses. This list includes the viruses that pose the greatest threat to human health. The researchers hope that their open-access tool could be used by other scientists, policymakers, and public health officials for further studies, surveillance, and risk-reducing activities to prioritize viruses to improve vaccines or treatments before the disease spreads.
SARS-CoV-2 is just one example of thousands of viruses that are likely to spread from the animal kingdom to humans, "said Zoë Grange, who led the development of the spillover as a postdoctoral researcher at the One Health Institute at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). "Before another devastating epidemic begins, we need to not only identify it but also take action on the risks of its viral threats," the statement said.
About 250 viruses, known as "zoonotic", means they have already spread from animals to humans, and there are an estimated 500,000 plus viruses in the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings Journal. There is no equal chance of jumping in. So the researchers created a "credit-type" score for viruses as a way to assess and compare their risks.
To present the score, the tool considers 32 risk factors related to the virus and its host, such as how many animal species are infected with the virus and how often humans interact with wildlife in areas where viruses have been identified.
The researchers then used the tool to rank those wildlife viruses based on their spillover risk. (Most viruses included in the rankings have been newly detected, but some are already known as zoonotic))
The top 12 viruses on the list are known as zoonotic pathogens. Lassa virus is in the first place, SARS-CoV-2 is in the second place and Ebola virus is in the third place. (The main animal host of the Lassa virus is believed to be the rat and the main host of the Ebola virus is believed to be the bat, and the main animal host of the SARS-CoV-2 is unknown, but the virus has been shown to be found in minks, lions and tigers.)
The authors said they expected this result - ranking zoonotic at the top of the known - and used it to validate the tool.
But why didn't the SARS-Cavi-2 rank first after its current widespread threat to human health? Researchers say their tool has the potential for some future epidemics. Some important information about SARS-CoV-2 remains unknown, such as the number of infected host species and the fact that researchers could learn more about it, it could take the top spot, the authors say.