Raccoon Dog, also known as Chinese or Asian raccoon dog is a fox-like canid endemic to East Asia. Its face has racoon-like markings and is closely related to foxes. It has unique traits when compared with canids (dogs, foxes and others) such as the capacity to climb trees and hibernating during winders. A new study found evidence providing the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 originating from racoon dogs.
Newly released genetic data collected from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan has suggested a link between Covid-19 and raccoon dogs, adding weight to the theory that infected animals sold at the market started the coronavirus pandemic. The previous conclusion that the samples contained no animal DNA has been overturned by an international team of scientists who analyzed gene sequences posted by Chinese researchers to the scientific database Gisaid. They found that some of the Covid-positive samples were rich in DNA from raccoon dogs, while traces of DNA belonging to other mammals, including civets, were also present.
The discovery does not prove that raccoon dogs or other animals infected with Covid triggered the pandemic, but it makes that possibility more likely, according to scientists presenting the work to an expert group at the World Health Organization (WHO). The data was presented to the WHO’s scientific advisory group for the origins of novel pathogens by Professor Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, who attended the meeting and is working on the data.
Raccoon Dogs and the Illegal Wildlife Trade
The latest genetic data does not prove that raccoon dogs or other mammals were infected with Covid and spread it at the market. However, the findings do point to the possibility that the cause was an infected animal and, ultimately, the illegal wildlife trade.
Category: Science & Technology Current Affairs