People are breathing a sigh of relief due to successful COVID-19 vaccines trials, but the threat is still real for the animal kingdom, which could create more problems for humans in the future.
Tony Goldberg, professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin, studies the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in nature.
Coronaviruses are widespread in animals, but when the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged, the transmissibility of the disease took Goldberg and his colleagues by surprise. They wondered if it could be transmitted back from humans to animals. They studied the West Nile virus as an example of how diseases can take hold in the world.
Goldberg said, “It’s perpetuated by a transmission cycle between mosquitoes and birds and then it spills over into people and other mammals every year in late summer. We’ll never get rid of it because it’s in wildlife. So if that were to happen with SARS-CoV-2 it would be a game-changer for our ability to eradicate the virus.”