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# COVID-19: Zoonotic aspects

Authors:
• 26.84
• Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine Engineering, Ministry of Education, School of Public Health, Nanjing, China

## Abstract

Coronaviruses can cause severe diseases in humans and animals, as has been stated recently by Biscayart et al. [1]. China has experienced several viral outbreaks in the last three decades; avian influenza outbreak in 1997, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 [2], and severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in 2010 [3]. In China, yet another pathogenic human coronavirus outbreak was reported in the city of Wuhan. Wuhan is an urban town located in the central part of China. It is one of the significant transportations and business hubs. In 2018, the city comprised of a population of approximately 11.9 million, and one of the seventh most populous Chinese city [1,4]. On December 12, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission (WMHC) reported 27 individuals infected by a new coronavirus designated 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by the World Health Organization (WHO). Of the reported cases, seven were critically ill and had a history of exposure with the Seafood Wholesale Market.
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Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease
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COVID-19: Zoonotic aspects
ARTICLE INFO
Keywords:
2019-New coronavirus
Outbreak
Transmission
China
Dear Editor
Coronaviruses can cause severe diseases in humans and animals, as
has been stated recently by Biscayart et al. [1]. China has experienced
several viral outbreaks in the last three decades; avian inﬂuenza out-
break in 1997, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 [2],
and severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in 2010 [3].
In China, yet another pathogenic human coronavirus outbreak was
reported in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province. Wuhan is an urban town
located in the central part of China. It is one of the signiﬁcant trans-
portations and business hubs. In 2018, the city comprised of a popu-
lation of approximately 11.9 million, and one of the seventh most po-
pulous Chinese city [1,4].
On December 12, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission
(WMHC) reported 27 individuals infected by a new coronavirus de-
signated initially as 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and later as
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the World Health
Organization (WHO). Of the reported cases, seven were critically ill and
had a history of exposure with the Seafood Wholesale Market.
An early study conducted in January 2020, among 41 patients
(median age 49 years), positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection (the causative
agent of COVID-19), found that half of them had underlying diseases,
including diabetes 20%, cardiovascular disease 15%, and hypertension
15%. Their symptoms were mainly fever 98%, cough 76%, and fatigue
44%. The COVID-19 severe complications in such patients included
respiratory distress syndrome 29%, RNAaemia 15%, acute cardiac in-
jury 12%, and other secondary infections. Of the total infected patients,
32% were admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The death rate was
15% [5].
Emerging viruses that spread to humans from an animal host are
proven to be some of the deadliest diseases known [2,3]. COVID-19 is
thought to be transmitted from the animals, though it has not yet been
clear exactly from which animal, however the animals have been the
sources of transmission as described in Fig. 1. The recent ﬁnding shows
that SARS-CoV-2 is 96% identical to a bat coronavirus [2]. We aimed to
discuss the zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans.
In the last few weeks, the number of cases has been increased and
pose a threat to public health. The region Wuhan is the potential hot-
spots of coronavirus infection in China. Daily, the number of cases has
been signiﬁcantly increased, and be tracked at https://gisanddata.
maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/
bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6. The overall case fatality rate
has been stable for weeks less than 3%. However, an increased number
of cases in China and outside posed an international emergency.
Therefore, countries with limited resources prepared and strengthen the
disease surveillance system to report and diagnose any case of COVID-
19.
Coronaviruses were identiﬁed in the mid-1960s and known to infect
humans and other animals, including birds and mammals. Epithelial
cells in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract are the primary target
cells. Due to these characters, viral shedding occurs via these systems
and transmission can occur through diﬀerent routes, i.e., fomites, air-
borne or fecal-oral. To date, seven coronaviruses have been shown to
infect humans. Common human coronaviruses Betacoronavirus HCoV-
OC43 and HCoV-HKU1, as well as Alphacoronavirus HCoV-229E, cause
common colds and severe lower respiratory tract infections in infants
and elderly, while Alphacoronavirus HCoV-NL63 is found to be a sig-
niﬁcant cause of (pseudo) croup and bronchiolitis in children [1].
New zoonotic coronaviruses have emerged and caused outbreaks in
humans; SARS-CoV (2002, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Sarbecovirus), and
MERS-CoV (2012, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Merbecovirus). In late
2019, a novel coronavirus related to a cluster of pneumonia cases in
Wuhan, China (2019-nCoV), was identiﬁed. After that the disease de-
signed as COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to SARS-CoV
and genetically clusters within Betacoronavirus subgenus Sarbecovirus
[1].
An early study conducted by Li and colleagues reported that of the
total 425 patients’ (median age was 59 years) highest number of cases,
55% had a history of Seafood Wholesale Market. Besides, 56% of pa-
tients were male, and the mean incubation period was 5.2 days. The
Seafood market located at Wuhan, where diﬀerent types of wild (snakes
and marmots) and domesticated (poultry and bats) animals were sold
illegally. Thus, suggested the disease may be transmitted from animals
to humans (Fig. 1). Till now, the speciﬁc source and reservoir of SARS-
CoV-2 are not explicitly known yet.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, although earlier transmissions were
from the animals after reporting four individuals from Seafood
Wholesale Market, all other transmissions are believed to be from
human to human (Fig. 1). This mode of transmission was so active that
within a few days, it ﬂew to other countries. A recent study identiﬁed
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101607
Received 13 February 2020; Received in revised form 19 February 2020; Accepted 24 February 2020
Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease xxx (xxxx) xxxx
human to human transmission of COVID-19. A Chinese (Shanghai re-
sident) between January 19, 2020 and January 22, 2020 had visited
Germany. During her stay in Germany, she developed no signs and
symptoms of COVID-19, but she was tested positive after came back to
China on January 26, 2020. On January 24, 2020, a 33 years old
German businessman became ill had chills, sore throat, and myalgias.
The patient history showed that he had a meeting with a Chinese
business partner on 20 and January 21, 2020. Later, on January 28,
2020, another three employees at the company were found positive for
COVID-19.
Animal to human transmission can be reduced more quickly as
compared to humans [2]. In the recent outbreak, transmission from
humans to humans increased many folds due to annual celebrations in
China during which the movement of the masses increased allot.
Human to human transmission can happen in several ways. It can be
through the droplets from the cough or sneeze, surfaces of public
transport, restaurants, and other public places (toilets, elevators, bus
stops).
As have occurred in the past with other zoonotic conditions [2], the
spillover of a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is now signiﬁcant. Origi-
nating in bats, current and previous coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV
and MERS-CoV, are a matter of concern in the interaction between
animals and humans, with the future concern of new epidemics in
Author contributions
Conceptualization: TA and MK. Data curation: TA.
Writing—original draft preparation: TA. Writing—review, and editing:
TA, MK, H, THM, SN, DKB-A, and AJR-M. Supervision and funding
acquisition: JH.
Ethical approval
Approval was not required.
Funding source
This study was ﬁnancially supported by Jiangsu Provincial Six
Talent Peak, grant number WSN‐002. The funder had no role in study
design, data collection, drafting of the manuscript, and submission.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Tauseef Ahmad: Writing - original draft. Muhammad Khan:
Writing - review & editing, Writing - original draft. Haroon: Writing -
review & editing. Taha Hussein Musa: Writing - review & editing.
Saima Nasir: Writing - review & editing. Jin Hui: Writing - review &
editing. D.Katterine Bonilla-Aldana: Writing - review & editing.
Alfonso J. Rodriguez-Morales: Writing - review & editing, Writing -
original draft.
Declaration of competing interest
All authors report no potential conﬂicts. All authors have submitted
the Form for Disclosure of Potential.
Acknowledgments
None.
References
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advice can we give to travellers? - interim recommendations January 2020, from the
Latin-American society for Travel Medicine (SLAMVI). Trav Med Infect Dis
2020:101567.
[2] Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Bonilla-Aldana DK, Balbin-Ramon GJ, Paniz-Mondolﬁ A,
Rabaan A, Sah R, et al. History is repeating itself, a probable zoonotic spillover as a
cause of an epidemic: the case of 2019 novel Coronavirus. Inf Med 2020;28:3–5.
[3] Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Ramirez-Jaramillo V, Patino-Barbosa AM, Bedoya-Arias HA,
Henao-SanMartin V, Murillo-Garcia DR, et al. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia
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Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health,
Southeast University, Nanjing, 210009, China
Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine Engineering, Ministry of
Education, School of Public Health, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
Department of Genetics, Centre for Human Genetics, Hazara University
Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamic, Pakistan
Fig. 1. Potential transmission cycles of SARS-CoV2 (formerly 2019nCoV).
Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease xxx (xxxx) xxxx
2
Haroon
College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xian, China
Taha Hussein Musa
Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health,
Southeast University, Nanjing, 210009, China
Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine Engineering, Ministry of
Education, School of Public Health, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
Saima Nasir
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, Islamic, Pakistan
Jin Hui
Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health,
Southeast University, Nanjing, 210009, China
Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine Engineering, Ministry of
Education, School of Public Health, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
D.Katterine Bonilla-Aldana
Incubator in Zoonosis (SIZOO), Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation
Research Group (BIOECOS), Fundación Universitaria Autónoma de las
Américas, Sede Pereira, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia
Public Health and Infection Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences,
Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Pereira, Colombia
Alfonso J. Rodriguez-Morales
Public Health and Infection Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences,
Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Pereira, Colombia
Grupo de Investigación Biomedicina, Faculty of Medicine, Fundación
Universitaria Autónoma de las Américas, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia
Corresponding author. Public Health and Infection Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia.
Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease xxx (xxxx) xxxx
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