Possibility for reverse zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to free-ranging wildlife: A case study of bats

PLoS Pathogens
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the substantial public health, economic, and societal consequences of virus spillover from a wildlife reservoir. Widespread human transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also presents a new set of challenges when considering viral spillover from people to naïve wildlife and other animal populations. The establishment of new wildlife reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 would further complicate public health control measures and could lead to wildlife health and conservation impacts. Given the likely bat origin of SARS-CoV-2 and related beta-coronaviruses (β-CoVs), free-ranging bats are a key group of concern for spillover from humans back to wildlife. Here, we review the diversity and natural host range of β-CoVs in bats and examine the risk of humans inadvertently infecting free-ranging bats with SARS-CoV-2. Our review of the global distribution and host range of β-CoV evolutionary lineages suggests that 40+ species of temperate-zone North American bats could be immunologically naïve and susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2. We highlight an urgent need to proactively connect the wellbeing of human and wildlife health during the current pandemic and to implement new tools to continue wildlife research while avoiding potentially severe health and conservation impacts of SARS-CoV-2 "spilling back" into free-ranging bat populations.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Possibility for reverse zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to free-ranging wildlife: A case study of bats
Series title PLoS Pathogens
DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008758
Volume 9
Issue 16
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description e1008758, 19 p.
First page e1008758
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table