Researchers have uncovered additional coronaviruses, including one similar to a coronavirus found in dogs, that may be able to infect humans, NPR reports.
It adds that at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke University's Gregory Gray pushed his graduate student Leshan Xiu to develop a test that could identify a range of coronaviruses, rather than just one particular coronavirus. As they now report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the resulting semi-nested RT-PCR assay picked up previously unknown coronaviruses.
The researchers analyzed nasopharyngeal samples obtained from 301 pneumonia patients in Malaysia between 2017 and 2018. Eight of the samples contained canine coronavirus RNA by their test, two of which were then confirmed by single-step RT-PCR analysis. One of those — dubbed CCoV-HuPn-2018 — could infect a canine cell line, and Sanger sequencing revealed it to be a mashup of canine and feline coronaviruses.
Science notes that the virus has not yet been conclusively linked to disease among humans and that there is no evidence that it could spread between people. Still, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Xumin Zhang adds at NPR that more testing of these and similar viruses are needed to prevent future outbreaks and pandemics.