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UP: IVRI Scientists Found Covid Infection In Dead Leopard Cub

| Updated: January 18, 2022 22:21

Veterinary scientists have detected the coronavirus in the wild leopard cub in Uttar Pradesh, thee first time the virus has been found in a free roaming wild feline.

The preprint server biorxiv, revealed that the one-year-old cub, which was found dead in mid-October, just months after the second wave of the pandemic in India had receded, was infected with the Delta Variant of the SARC-CoV-2 virus.

Scientists had earlier documented infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 in captive lions and tigers as well as in wild mink and deer. But the IVRI scientists say the infected leopard is the first sign of the virus in wild feline species.

“All the earlier SARS-CoV-2 infections in feline spices were believed to be the result of spill-overs, the cats got the virus from infected humans around them,” said Gaurav Sharma, an IVRI scientist who examined the leopard’s carcass and tissues.

Leopards compared to other felines, are less shy around humans, and this one may have likely gotten infected from humans in the nearby village, or from some food it may have eaten there- we aren’t sure, Sharma said.

Based on teeth marks on the cub and other pathological signs in its brain and lung tissues, researchers said the cub may have died after a fight with other animals some time after it began showing Covid-19 Symptoms.

“The virus is finding new host in some wild animals. Many experts believe it may become endemic and never completely be eradicated as it finds new animal hosts,” Dr Sharma said

“It is significant that the leopard cub was infected in October at a time the country’s second wave had receded and the infection’s prevalence level in humans would have been lower than earlier in the year,’’ ‘This adds to the mystery- how did it get the infection?’

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