Scientists have reportedly detected a new variant of coronavirus originating in dogs which may cause disease in humans, a study has found.
The variant was discovered among patients who had suffered from pneumonia in 2017-18, and could turn out to be the eighth unique form of the bug to cause disease in humans.
A study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal on Thursday, May 20, tested nasal swab samples from 301 pneumonia patients at a hospital in east Malaysia.
Of the samples taken, eight which were taken mostly from children under five returned a positive result for a variant of animal coronavirus originating in canines, Reuters reported.
The scientists found that the new strain contained a mutation that had also been spotted in human strains of the virus such as SARS-COV and SARS-COV-2, which is the variant of the virus responsible for the covid-19 pandemic.
They confirmed that the bug is likely capable of moving from animals to humans, but further study will be needed to figure out if it can be transmitted from human to human.
At present it is unclear if the new variant can even cause disease in humans, as it is also possible that people can carry the virus in their airways without it causing any significant symptoms to appear.
Further study also found that the newly discovered strain also contained characteristics of other viruses known to affect animals such as dogs, pigs, and cats, with canines being the animal most commonly affected.
It was also reported that the source of the variant SAR-COV-2, which caused the pandemic, remains unknown.
Seven variants of coronavirus are currently known to cause disease in humans, with four causing the common cold, and the other three causing the diseases known as SARS, MERS, and Covid-19.
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