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A new Covid-19 variant may be spreading among rats in New York City.
A study published in Nature Communications analyzed xe2x80x9ccryptic lineagesxe2x80x9d of the coronavirus found in NYCxe2x80x99s sewage system. Different Covid variants were detected that are either from unsequenced human strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus or from a xe2x80x9cnon-human animal reservoirxe2x80x9d xe2x80x94 a new rat-borne variant.
xe2x80x9cOne of the amino-acid changes that wexe2x80x99re seeing in the virus has not been seen in patients. Ever. But this amino-acid change has been seen in rodent-adapted virus, which really says something to me,xe2x80x9d study co-author Marc C. Johnson, a virologist at the University of Missouri, told Curbed.
Rodents, Johnson said, were not susceptible to the original coronavirus but can be infected by Alpha, Beta and Gamma editions. Other animals who have been infected by Covid variants include mink, lions, tigers, cats and dogs.
Co-author John Dennehy, a Queens College virologist, said itxe2x80x99s possible New York rats have gotten infected from drinking sewer water or eating feces.
According to the New York Post, researchers did not find evidence Covid is circulating through the rat population, but they suspect the next variant of the disease will begin with vermin.
xe2x80x9cThe observation is consistent with the possibility that these lineages are derived from an animal host such as a rodent,xe2x80x9d the study said.