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Coronavirus Spreading From Humans to Wild Animals Would Be Like ‘Opening Pandora’s Box’

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here. When five tigers and three lions tested positive at the Bronx Zoo this month, they became the world’s first wild animals known to have contracted the coronavirus from humans. Scientists hope they’re also the last. “We likely got this from an animal,…

Coronavirus Spreading From Humans to Wild Animals Would Be Like ‘Opening Pandora’s Box’

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

When five tigers and three lions tested positive at the Bronx Zoo this month, they became the world’s first wild animals known to have contracted the coronavirus from humans.

Scientists hope they’re also the last.

“We likely got this from an animal, but now we are putting at risk the entire ecosystem on our planet,” said Arinjay Banerjee, a virologist at McMaster University.

Researchers were confident as early as January that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was zoonotic, or spreads from animals to humans. It took longer to confirm that the virus goes the other way, too.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, infects certain animals more than others: Ferrets, hamsters, and primates are all susceptible. But the virus replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, ducks, and chickens, according to a study in Science. A handful of pet cats and dogs have also tested positive around the world, but they didn’t get very sick. Testing is in its early stages, so it’s unclear which other animal groups could be affected.

Wildlife managers around the world have ramped up protections for fragile populations like India’s tigers and great apes. Scientists in the U.S. are particularly concerned about animals that are already vulnerable to diseases, like bats and endangered black-footed ferrets. Since scientists believe a Chinese bat species is the source of the coronavirus, they’re concerned North American bats could also become carriers.

There’s no evidence that animals have given the virus back to people since the pandemic started. But if humans do spread the coronavirus to wildlife, it will become much harder to eradicate.

“Once it’s in wildlife, it’s very hard to get rid of it,” said Dr. William Karesh, EcoHealth Alliance’s executive vice president for health and policy. “It’s like opening Pandora’s box.”

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Federal judge rules Cuccinelli appointment unlawful

Because Cuccinelli’s USCIS position was designated initially as “first assistant” to the USCIS director, the Trump administration reasoned that Cuccinelli could become acting chief under a provision of the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act. But Moss wrote th…

Federal judge rules Cuccinelli appointment unlawful

Because Cuccinelli’s USCIS position was designated initially as “first assistant” to the USCIS director, the Trump administration reasoned that Cuccinelli could become acting chief under a provision of the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
But Moss wrote th…
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The fighter pilot takes on the astronaut: McSally’s 2020 Arizona mission

In Gilbert, a town of more than 200,000 people outside Phoenix, McSally satdown to talk local issues with the mayor outside a bustling coffee shop in the mild winter warmth before taking a walking tour of the small downtown, hitting up a few local spots to ha…

The fighter pilot takes on the astronaut: McSally’s 2020 Arizona mission

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Italy Set to Approve $442 Million Loan to Keep Alitalia Flying

Italy Set to Approve $442 Million Loan to Keep Alitalia Flying

Italy Set to Approve $442 Million Loan to Keep Alitalia Flying
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