When Covid-19 began spreading around the world in December 2019, one of the first things scientists did was start looking for the source of the new illness. No one had ever encountered the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 in humans before. But it did look similar to viruses carried by bats. That led researchers to believe the virus was zoonotic, meaning it originated in an animal (in this case, bats) and jumped to humans when they came in close contact.
But the virus didn’t stop with people: It has continued to spread to a range of other species. So far, scientists have detected the coronavirus in pets like cats, ferrets, and dogs. Wild animals, including gorillas, lions, minks, tigers, and snow leopards, have also tested positive for Covid-19.
Science World spoke to Dr. Anna Fagre, a veterinarian and microbiologist at Colorado State University. She discusses the impact SARS-CoV-2 is having on animals around the world—and what people can do to keep themselves and other species safe.