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Find the latest information on the Coronavirus outbreak in Utah, including public health measures, contact information, news updates, and more.

Stop The Spread: Lessons Learned From Wildlife

bat hanging from a tree

COVID-19 is zoonosis. Zoonosis is a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals through eventual evolutionary changes, perhaps over decades. The virus eventually gained the ability to spread from human to human. The war between humans and these parasites has been a dominating force in both human and disease evolution.

Given this war, if wildlife can transmit diseases to humans, can humans also transmit diseases to wildlife? Recently, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for COVID-19. While other human pets have tested positive for the presence of the virus, there are no reported cases of pets spreading the virus to humans. The infected tiger at the Bronx Zoo may be the first case of a zoonosis being transmitted to humans from an animal.

Animals can get sick from diseases that affect humans. How do they also protect themselves? Animals had evolved mechanism for protecting themselves from infection and illness long before we could simply swallow a few pills. So, what happens when you throw everything you've got - antibiotics, hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, vaccines, and even radiation to combat something like COVID-19?

While we may think humans still have the upper hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a new reality that viruses, bacteria, and all the rest are crafty creatures themselves. No doubt science will come up with more sophisticated ways in which to tackle COVID-19 and other emerging diseases, but until then, our best defense remains the simple protective measures that we share in common with the animal kingdom to stop the spread and to survive our war with the disease.