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Media opportunity: Dalhousie, Canadian researchers detect first potential case of deer‑to‑human transmission of SARS‑CoV‑2
A team of researchers from Dalhousie University and other Canadian organizations has discovered what could be the first link between a case of COVID-19 in deer and humans, suggesting in a new paper that the virus can be transmitted from wildlife to people.
Finlay Maguire, a data scientist and assistant professor in Dal's Faculty of Computer Science and the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, participated in the national research project that has been monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in animals.
The paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and is published on the online preprint server bioRxiv, explains that while there is evidence of spillover of the COVID-19 virus from humans to white-tailed deer, there had not yet been any clear finding of such transmission from deer to people.
The multidisciplinary team identified a new and highly divergent lineage of SARS-CoV-2 that has 76 mutations, including 37 previously associated with animal hosts. Analysis revealed an epidemiologically linked human case from the same region of southwestern Ontario during the same sampling period.
Dr. Maguire is available to discuss the significant findings and concerns that SARS-CoV-2 viruses can undergo extensive evolution within animal populations and then transmit back to humans. -30-
Senior Research Reporter
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