Near‐complete genome of SARS‐CoV‐2 Delta variant of concern identified in a symptomatic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) in Botswana.

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has impacted humans worldwide. While the virus primarily spreads among humans, there have been rare instances of infection in animals. In Botswana, a significant discovery was made when researchers identified the Delta variant of concern in a symptomatic dog (Canis lupus familiaris).

This groundbreaking research aimed to understand the potential transmission of the Delta variant from humans to animals and vice versa. The scientists collected samples from a symptomatic dog that showed respiratory signs and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Using advanced genomic techniques, they successfully sequenced and analyzed the near-complete genome of the virus found in the infected canine.

The other notable success in this study is the researchers were able to successfully SARS-CoV-2 using a sample with very low viral load. This has been a challenge in many studies and settings. 

Overall, the results shed light on the transmission dynamics of the Delta variant in the context of interspecies spread. While the infection in dogs remains uncommon, this study highlights the importance of continued monitoring and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in animals.

Understanding the potential for SARS-CoV-2 to infect animals has significant implications for public health and veterinary medicine. It not only helps safeguard human health by identifying possible sources of transmission but also aids in comprehending the virus’s behavior and evolution in different hosts.

The findings from this research emphasize the need for a One Health approach, where experts from human and animal health collaborate to monitor and control infectious diseases that can affect both humans and animals. By closely studying the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in various species, we strengthen our ability to respond effectively to future challenges posed by the virus.

Overall, this study contributes to our understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its potential impact on animal populations. It reinforces the importance of vigilance and cooperation between human and veterinary health sectors to mitigate the risks associated with the ongoing pandemic.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.