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Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals is critical to prevent formation of animal reservoirs and to reduce risks of transmission to humans, according to a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and animal health partners. SARS-CoV-2 infection has been detected in wild, free-ranging, or captive animals including big cats, minks, ferrets, North American white-tailed deer, and great apes, in addition to domestic animals.
Although wildlife does not play a major role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans, transmission within animal populations may promote new virus variants. A study found that about 36% of 360 white-tailed deer from northeast Ohio were infected in early 2021. The possible transmission of a highly divergent strain from a white-tailed deer to a person in Canada is under review.
The statement calls for SARS-CoV-2 infection monitoring in animals as well as viral variant genomic surveillance. Butchers, hunters, farmers, and others in close proximity to animals should take precautions against infection. These include using gloves, face masks, and other personal protective equipment when working with live or dead animals and following good hygiene practices for handling meat.
The public should be educated not to handle, attract, or allow pets to interact with wild animals. People should not approach or feed wild animals or touch or eat those that are orphaned, sick, or found dead, including road kills. As an emergency measure, the WHO also recommends suspending the sale of captured live wild animals in food markets.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid