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Three University of Idaho professors research animals' susceptibility to coronavirus

Posted at 11:23 AM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 09:39:49-04

MAGIC VALLEY — According to the CDC, cats and dogs, and a few other animals can be infected with COVID-19, but there is still no evidence to prove farm animals can be infected. Three University of Idaho professors are looking to change that.

"A group of us got together and decided what else can we do to understand the current pandemic," Paul Rowley, Assistant professor for the Department of Biological Sciences, said.

After receiving a grant at the beginning of the pandemic to study therapeutics to combat coronavirus cell entry, the three professors decided to use animal cells to look further into what animals the virus could use as a host.

"That could be quite serious implications for human health if we had domestic animals and farms animals actually having coronavirus as well then they would further spread it to humans and other animals," Rowley said.

And they say finding out this information is crucial to help stop the spread of the virus.

"We do want to focus on animals that are relevant to humans or more relevant to humans, so when we say farm animals, we would, for example, mean domesticated cattle, domesticated animals, whether they be in farms or people's homes," Rowley said.

Instead of looking for a cure for the virus, the three professors have been researching ways to block receptors that allow the virus to penetrate a cell. If they can achieve this, they could potentially help stop the spread of the virus.

"So understanding how certain coronaviruses gets into an animal cell could help us understand other related coronaviruses and how they would get into animal and human cells as well," Rowley said.

For more information on their research, you can visit the University of Idaho's website.