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Swedish researchers identify new coronavirus commonly found in rodents

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Swedish researchers have discovered a new coronavirus found in red-backed voles, which are small, stocky rodents similar to field mice.

According to the Zoonosis Science Center at Uppsala University, the study of approximately 260 bank voles caught around Grimso in Orebro County, Sweden, shows that the virus is well established in the red-backed voles.

Their discovery was published in the journal Viruses.

“Between 2015 and 2017, we consistently found what we have called the ‘Grimso Virus’ in 3.4 per cent of these voles, which would suggest that the virus is widespread and common in Sweden’s bank voles,” said Ake Lundkvist, Professor in virology and head of the Centre.

The researchers mapped zoonotic viruses in order to better understand how viruses interact with host animals.

Seasonal coronaviruses, such as HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1, appear to have spread to humans from rodents such as rats, mice, and voles, as opposed to SARS-CoV and MERS coronaviruses, which originate in bats.

Using an RNA sequencing method, the researchers discovered a new coronavirus called the aGrimso Virus, which belongs to the betacoronavirus family, which also includes SARS-CoV, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2.

Rodents already carry several zoonotic microorganisms, such as Hantaviruses and Tularemia, implying that they play an important role in the spread of infectious diseases.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in infectious diseases linked to small mammals, such as rodents, and research into the ecology of these host animals is an important component of efforts to prevent future outbreaks.

One of Europe’s most common rodents is the bank vole (Myodes glareolus).

Previous research has discovered several coronaviruses circulating among animals in countries such as the United Kingdom, Poland, France, and Germany.

“We still do not know what potential threats the Grimso Virus may pose to public health. However, based on our observations and previous coronaviruses identified among bank voles, there is good reason to continue monitoring the coronavirus amongst wild rodents,” said Lundkvist.

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Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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