New Research Centre at the CZU Prague makes focus on transmission of new COVID-19 and other infectious diseases from animals to humans and vice versa

According to recent research, the virus which causes the new COVID-19 disease might be transmitted to animals. Cats, dogs, ferrets and even livestock might be infected the same way as humans are.

The pandemic proliferation of the disease among the animal population has inspired the idea to establish the Centre of Infectious Diseases of Animals (CINeZ) by the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. Aside of the basic research, it will provide services to breeders and do testing of their animals.  

Problems of the transmission of the infections, mainly the SARS-CoV-2, will be treated by experts of the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences and the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources. They will track risks produced by the transmission of selected diseases within the animal population. The research should bring up new findings about the mechanism of infectious diseases transmission not only from one species of animals to another or within different species, but also from animals to humans.  Including those transmissible from humans to animals.

Jiří Černý, virologist of the Faculty of Tropical AgriScience and one of the founding members of the CINeZ proclaims: „Diseases which originally affected animals and later acquired the capability of infecting humans have got a dominant share in the complex of all the human infectious diseases. They represent a great risk not only for human beings, but also for domestic and wild animals, which can serve as storage of human diseases. The epidemy of infectious diseases affecting livestock might cause a food shortage. Infectious diseases also represent danger for the mere existence of animals in danger of extinction.”

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the only pathogen which the Centre of Infectious Diseases of Animals makes focus on. The experts will study other virus, bacterial and parasite infections. They will pay attention to domestic animals and livestock, but also to exotic species bred in zoological gardens.

Jan Banout, dean of the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences says: „Nowadays we cooperate with zoological gardens on research of the SARS-CoV-2. As is known, it even may infect different species of endangered animals, which has to be taken into consideration from the point of view of their protection in the wild nature.”

The new research centre will also develop the method of identifying people infected by the new COVID-19 disease with the help of dogs.

Iva Langrová, dean of the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, explains: “Dogs are able to detect a specific smell of people suffering of different diseases. This might be possible even in case of the new COVID-19 disease. As we already know, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is dead after having been stored in cans for 24 hours, so the method is harmless to dogs.“

The Centre of Infectious Diseases of Animals will make use of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague laboratory. A quick start up will be enabled by the laboratory background, which is already accessible at the two cooperating faculties.

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