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There could be another Coronavirus-style pandemic on the way, if new research is anything to go by.
Just as Brits were hoping to put lockdowns and mask wearing behind them, a new pandemic threatens to be the cause of more impending doom.
And, if new research is correct, the next pandemic could come from rats.
Despite still being in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic, new research from Professor Mona Singh, of Princeton University, New Jersey, shows that rats can carry symptomless versions of Coronaviruses – of which there are several.
He said: “This raises the possibility that modern rodents may be reservoirs of SARS-like viruses.”
This research also applies to mice, too, and shows that identifying other creatures that have adapted tolerance mechanisms to coronaviruses is important.
Professor Singh added: “Our study suggests ancestral rodents may have had repeated infections with SARS-like coronaviruses.
“They have acquired some form of tolerance or resistance to SARS-like coronaviruses as a result of these infections.
“This raises the tantalising possibility some modern rodent species may be asymptomatic carriers of SARS-like coronaviruses – including those that may not have been discovered yet.”
It wouldn't be the first time rodents have spread a pandemic-inducing virus, as, in the 14 th century, a less-hygienic world was subjected to the Black Death, which killed tens of millions of people around medieval Europe.
A report earlier this year from the UK's SAGE group showed that the risk of catching Covid-style diseases from rats, or indeed any animal, was “very low” unless you work with animals.
The report also showed that rodents can actually catch the current virus from humans, and pass it between the rat population.
It was not clear on whether or not rats get symptoms, but the passing-on of the virus between other rats could lead to a “sustained population level transmission” among the animals.
Despite the rumoured bat-human Covid-19 theory, which has gone very quiet in recent months, the exact reason why the current pandemic was caused remains unknown – despite world health leaders attempting to gain answers from China, where it is confirmed the virus started from.
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- Black Death
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