Two-way viral spread

Two-way viral spread

The advent of COVID-19 put the spotlight back on diseases we can catch from animals. But microbial transmission cuts both ways.

That’s right — sometimes it’s people who spread pathogens to animals. With SARS and the H1N1 flu pandemics, animal infections occurred after human outbreaks. Even the novel coronavirus has reportedly been passed from people to dogs and cats in a few cases.

This back-and-forth exchange can lead to an animal being infected by multiple viruses at the same time — and that’s where things get really dicey. Through a process called reassortment, viruses mix their genes. In rare instances, a novel virus is created and makes the jump to people.

That’s why One Health needs to be the method of the moment. We’re all in this together, so viewing human and veterinary diseases through the same lens only makes sense.

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