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Humans pass more viruses to animals, study finds
Researchers analysed nearly 12 million viral genomes.
Twice as many infections involved human-animal transmission than animal-human.

A study has revealed that more viral infections are anthroponotic, meaning that they are transferred from humans to domestic and wild animals, than are zoonotic.

An analysis of viral genome sequences demonstrated that roughly twice as many infections involved human-animal transmission than animal-human.

With many epidemic and pandemics, such as Ebola and Covid-19, resulting from zoonotic transmission, these diseases have often taken precedence as a threat to public health. This has led to humans being considered a sink for viruses, rather than a source.

To compare the amount of zoonotic and anthroponotic diseases, researchers from University College London (UCL) developed methodological tools that would enable them to analyse nearly 12 million viral genomes that were deposited on public databases.

This meant that they could reconstruct evolutionary histories and past host jumps of viruses across 32 viral families, considering which genomes developed mutations during host jumps. This would allow them to quantify where viruses occurred from animal-human, human-animal or animal-animal transmission.

The results highlighted a prevalence of human-animal transmissions, consistent across most viral families. It also discovered even more animal-animal transmissions, not involving humans.

Findings showed that viral host jumps were often related to an increase in genetic changes, or mutations, in the viruses, relative to their continued evolution alongside a host animal.

Viruses with broader host ranges showed weaker signs of adaptation, which suggested that they were inherently more capable of infecting a range of hosts. Other viruses may require more extensive adaptation to infect a new host species.

Prof Francois Balloux, a co-author of the study from the UCL Genetics Institute, said: "We should consider humans just as one node in a vast network of hosts endlessly exchanging pathogens, rather than a sink for zoonotic bugs.

"By surveying and monitoring transmission of viruses between animals and humans, in either direction, we can better understand viral evolution and hopefully be more prepared for future outbreaks and epidemics of novel illnesses, while also aiding conservation efforts.”

The full study can be found in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.