GS Paper - 3 (Health and Disease)

Swedish scientists have identified a new coronavirus commonly found in red-backed voles -- small, stocky rodents similar to field mice. The study of approximately 260 bank voles caught around Grimso, in Orebro County in Sweden shows that the virus is well established in the red-backed voles.

What

  1. The team mapped zoonotic viruses to increase the understanding of the interaction between viruses and host animals.
  2. Unlike the SARS-CoV and MERS coronaviruses that originate in bats, seasonal coronaviruses, such as HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1, appear to have spread to humans from rodents like rats, mice and voles.
  3. Using an RNA sequencing method, the team identified a new coronavirus known as the aGrimso Virus' belonging to the betacoronavirus family that also includes SARS-CoV, MERS and SARS-CoV-2.
  4. Rodents already carry several zoonotic microorganisms, such as Hantaviruses and Tularemia, meaning they play a key role in how infectious diseases are spread.
  5. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in infectious diseases that can be linked to small mammals, like rodents, and research around the ecology of these host animals is an essential component in the work to prevent future outbreaks.
  6. The bank vole (Myodes glareolus) is one of Europe's most common rodents. Previous studies have found several coronaviruses circulating amongst animals in countries like the UK, Poland, France and Germany.