U.S. wild deer will have new crown antibodies in 2019. What does this mean?

According to foreign media reports, in a recently released retrospective study, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said that the new crown was found in blood samples collected from a wild white-tailed deer herd in the United States in 2019. Traces of virus antibodies.

   However, the USDA denied this, saying it was "almost certainly a false positive." what on earth is it?

▲Wild white-tailed deer. According to the US "Staten Herald" ▲Wild white-tailed deer. According to the US "Stanton Herald"

   2019 samples tested positive for new crown antibodies

   What does this mean?

   It is reported that researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted antibody analysis of the new coronavirus on more than 600 wild white-tailed deer blood samples from Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. It was found that a total of one-third of the white-tailed deer sampled had antibodies related to the new coronavirus, and antibodies were detected in up to 60% of the samples in Michigan.

   On July 29th, researchers from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture published a related paper on the bioRxiv platform in the form of a preprint, "Research on Wild White-tailed Deer Infection with New Coronavirus". According to the article, the researchers analyzed blood samples of white-tailed deer collected between 2011 and 2021. The analysis results showed that of the 385 blood samples collected from January to March 2021, 40% of the new coronavirus-related antibodies can be detected.

▲Related paper "Research on New Coronavirus Infection in Wild Whitetail Deer" published by APHIS researchers. The screenshot is taken from the related paper "Research on Wild White-tailed Deer Infected with New Coronavirus" published by APHIS researchers on the bioRxiv platform. Screenshot from the bioRxiv platform

   It is worth noting that further testing found that in the 239 samples collected before January 2020, the presence of positive antibodies to the new coronavirus was also found. Among them, related antibodies were detected in 3 of the samples collected in early 2020, and related antibodies were detected in 1 of the samples collected in 2019. No antibodies were found in the samples from 2011 to 2018.

   So, the positive result of this case in 2019 means that the emergence of the new crown virus in the wild animals in the United States has been advanced to 2019?

   The researchers further explained in the paper that the inhibition rate of most positive samples in 2021 is 80%~100%, while the inhibition rate of positive samples in 2019 and 2020 is relatively low, only 30.03%~43.72%. Generally speaking, if the inhibition rate is greater than 30%, it will be considered positive. However, the lower inhibition rate may be interfered by other factors, such as potential immune enhancement or weakening, non-specific antibody binding, or detection of cross-reactions caused by other coronavirus antibodies.

   Schematic diagram of the test results of serum samples from wild white-tailed deer in the United States. According to bioRxiv

  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is inconsistent

   American experts believe that cross-infection cannot be ruled out

   However, according to US media reports, the USDA directly denied this possibility, saying that it was "almost certainly a false positive" because of its very low antibody level. This is slightly contradictory to the previous statement that "very confident in the test results".

   According to US media reports, the USDA previously stated in a statement that all testing procedures have taken reasonable precautions to ensure the accuracy of the data. The researchers also used two different machines for antibody testing to ensure the accuracy of their conclusions. Therefore, the relevant data results show that the new crown antibody has been quite common in the deer herd, and a large number of deer are likely to have been infected with the new crown virus.

▲U.S. media reported that 67% of wild white-tailed deer in Michigan have antibodies to the new coronavirus. According to WILX▲ US media reports, 67% of wild white-tailed deer in Michigan have antibodies to the new coronavirus. Figure according to WILX

   In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also stated to National Geographic magazine in a statement that “the results of the second test reflect the findings of the first test, that is, the new crown antibody was indeed detected.”

The National Geographic of the United States further analyzed that if antibodies to other coronaviruses are detected, then the blood samples of white-tailed deer collected before and during the outbreak of the new crown epidemic should have similar levels of antibodies in their bodies, but in 239 samples Only 1 case was positive, indicating that there was no cross-infection.

However, Daniel Bowsch, head of emerging threats and global health and security for the non-profit organization FIND, believes that although the two tests gave him confidence in the results of this study, the possibility of cross-reactions cannot be completely ruled out, because there may be many that have not yet been tested. The discovered coronavirus spreads among animals.

  The path of deer infection remains a mystery

  The state where the German Fort is located suddenly stopped deer sampling

   In addition, there is another question that has attracted the attention of researchers: How did these white-tailed deer get infected?

   US media reports pointed out that although researchers suspected that the wild deer herd was infected by humans, they did not have any definite conclusions on the route of infection. In their paper, they listed several potential transmission routes for the new crown virus to enter the wild deer herd: one is contact with humans (infection), including captive deer, field research, conservation work, wildlife tourism, wildlife rehabilitation, supplementary feeding and hunting A variety of activities are possible to achieve transmission; and other potential transmission methods, including through contaminated water sources or contact with other infected species.

▲Wild white-tailed deer in Henlopon Point State Park, Delaware, USA. According to Agence France-Presse ▲Wild white-tailed deer in Henlopon Point State Park, Delaware, USA. According to Agence France-Presse

According to a previous report by the People’s Daily, it is worth noting that, according to the news on the official website of the National Deer Association of the United States on July 14, due to the impact of the new crown virus, Maryland and West Virginia completely stopped hunting deer in the fall of 2020. Sampling test work for "chronic wasting disease".

   Coincidentally, the US Army Fort Detrick Biological Laboratory is located in Maryland, not far from West Virginia. According to previous reports in the US media, in July 2019, Fort Detrick's Biological Laboratory was temporarily closed “due to a failure of the wastewater purification system”.

According to the website of Time News, a local media outlet in Cumberland, western Maryland, the halt of sampling in the fall of 2020 was the first time that sampling was halted since 2010 when a "chronic wasting disease" was first discovered in a herd of Maryland deer. Test work. A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said in an email: "This is to prevent the spread of the new crown virus and protect the safety of workers and the public."

美国野生鹿群2019年就有了新冠抗体,这意味着啥?

  据外媒报道,在近期发布的一项回溯研究中,美国农业部(USDA)动植物卫生检验局(APHIS)的研究人员称,在美国野生白尾鹿群2019年采集的血液样本中发现了新冠病毒抗体的痕迹。

  然而,美国农业部却对此予以否认,称这“几乎可以肯定是假阳性”。这究竟是怎么回事?

▲野生白尾鹿。图据美国《史坦顿先锋报》▲野生白尾鹿。图据美国《史坦顿先锋报》

  2019年样本新冠抗体呈阳性

  这意味着啥?

  据悉,美国农业部(USDA)的研究人员对来自密歇根州、伊利诺伊州、纽约州和宾夕法尼亚州的600多只野生白尾鹿血液样本进行了新冠病毒抗体分析。结果发现,共有三分之一被抽样的白尾鹿体内存在新冠病毒相关抗体,其中密歇根州有高达60%的样本检测出了抗体。

  7月29日,美国农业部动植物卫生检验局(APHIS)的研究人员以预印本形式在bioRxiv平台发表了相关论文《野生白尾鹿感染新冠病毒研究》。文中写道,研究人员对2011年至2021年间采集的白尾鹿血液样本进行了分析。分析结果显示,2021年1月至3月收集的385份血液样本中,有40%能检测到新冠病毒相关抗体。

▲APHIS研究人员发表的相关论文《野生白尾鹿感染新冠病毒研究》。截图自bioRxiv平台▲APHIS研究人员发表的相关论文《野生白尾鹿感染新冠病毒研究》。截图自bioRxiv平台

  而值得注意的是,进一步检测发现,在2020年1月前收集的239个样本中,同样发现了新冠病毒阳性抗体的存在。其中,2020年初收集的样本中有3例检测出相关抗体,2019年收集的样本中有1例检测出相关抗体。2011年至2018年的样本中,未发现任何抗体存在。

  那么,2019年这1例阳性结果,是否意味着新冠病毒在美国野生动物中出现的时间提前至了2019年呢? 

  研究人员在论文中对此进一步解释道,2021年大部分阳性样本的抑制率在80%~100%,而2019年和2020年阳性样本的抑制率相对较低,仅有30.03%~43.72%。通常而言,抑制率大于30%,就会被认定为阳性。然而,较低的抑制率可能受其他因素干扰而出现,比如潜在的免疫增强或减弱、非特异性抗体结合或检测到其他冠状病毒抗体导致的交叉反应。

  美国野生白尾鹿血清样本检测结果示意图。图据bioRxiv

  美农业部前后说法矛盾

  美专家认为不排除交叉感染

  然而,据美媒报道,美国农业部直接否认了这一可能,称这“几乎可以肯定是假阳性”,因为它的抗体水平非常低。而这与其此前声明称“对检测结果十分有信心”略显矛盾。

  据美媒报道,美国农业部此前在一份声明中表示,所有检测程序都采取了合理的预防措施,以确保数据的准确性。研究人员还使用了两台不同的机器进行抗体测试,以确保得出结论的准确性。因此,相关数据结果表明,新冠抗体在鹿群中已相当普遍,大量的鹿很有可能已经感染过新冠病毒。

▲美媒报道称67%的密歇根州野生白尾鹿存在新冠病毒抗体。图据WILX▲美媒报道称67%的密歇根州野生白尾鹿存在新冠病毒抗体。图据WILX

  此外,美国农业部同样在一份声明中向美国《国家地理》杂志表示,“第二次检测的结果反映了第一次检测的发现,即确实检测到了新冠抗体。”

  美国《国家地理》进一步分析道,如果检测到的是其他冠状病毒的抗体,那么在新冠疫情暴发前和疫情期间采集的白尾鹿血液样本中,其体内的抗体水平应该相似,但239个样本中仅有1例为阳性,说明并不存在交叉感染的情况。

  但非营利组织FIND的新兴威胁和全球卫生安全主管丹尼尔·鲍许则认为,尽管两次测试让他对这一研究结果有信心,但并不能完全排除交叉反应的可能,因为可能有许多尚未被发现的冠状病毒在动物中传播。

  鹿群感染途径仍然成谜

  德堡所在州曾突然叫停鹿群采样

  除此之外,还有一个问题引起了研究人员的关注:这些白尾鹿究竟是如何被感染的? 

  美媒报道指出,尽管研究人员怀疑野生鹿群是被人类感染的,但他们对感染途径并没有任何确切的结论。他们在论文中列举了新冠病毒进入野生鹿群的几种潜在传播途径:一是与人类接触(感染),包括圈养鹿、实地研究、保护工作、野生动物旅游、野生动物康复、补充喂养和狩猎等多种活动都有可能实现传播;而其他的潜在传播方式,包括通过受污染的水源或接触其他被感染的物种。

▲美国特拉华州亨洛彭角州立公园内的野生白尾鹿。图据法新社▲美国特拉华州亨洛彭角州立公园内的野生白尾鹿。图据法新社

  据《人民日报》此前报道,值得注意的是,根据美国“全国鹿协会”官网7月14日的消息,由于新冠病毒影响,马里兰州和西弗吉尼亚州在2020年秋天完全停止了对猎杀鹿的“慢性消耗性疾病”的采样测试工作。

  巧合的是,美军德特里克堡生物实验室就坐落在马里兰州,距离西弗吉尼亚州也不远。根据美国媒体此前的报道,2019年7月,德特里克堡生物实验室“因废水净化系统出现故障”而被暂时关闭。 

  马里兰州西部坎伯兰市地方媒体“时代新闻”网站称,2020年秋天的那次停止采样,是自2010年在马里兰州鹿群中首次发现“慢性消耗性疾病”以来,第一次停止采样测试工作。马里兰州自然资源厅发言人在一封电子邮件中表示:“这是为了防止新冠病毒传播,保护工作人员和公众的安全。” 

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