The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is thought to have originally jumped from wild animals to humans. But people have the potential to transmit the virus to some animals as well.
In fact, humans appear to have transferred the disease to mink, large cats at zoos—maybe even a few dogs and cats. But so far, wildlife appears to have been spared from the spread.
If transmission by that route occurs, COVID-19 could threaten the lives of vulnerable species. What’s more, if the virus spreads to animals like North American deer mice, it could create a reservoir of infection that could confound disease control efforts.
That’s why researchers suggest that people who work directly or indirectly with wild animals mask up and use other forms of personal protective equipment. A lot depends on stopping the spread—in any direction.