Based upon the data reported by Dr Shi and coworkers (1) as well as by other investigators, cats, ferrets, hamsters, tigers, lions, and minks represent, along with macaques and other non-human primates, mammalian species that are susceptible to natural and/or experimental infection by the "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus (CoV)-2", the seventh officially recognized human coronavirus, which is also the causative agent of "CoronaVirus Disease 2019" (CoViD-19). A less pronounced SARS-CoV-2 sensitivity has been additionally shown in dogs, with resistance to experimental challenge having been reported in chickens and ducks (1). As firmly ascertained in mankind, cats would be also prone to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection through the respiratory route, with infected (and asymptomatic) felines shedding the virus by means of aerosolization, thereby infecting their conspecifics housed in close proximity to them (1). Noteworthy, SARS-CoV-2 infection has been recently diagnosed in mink farms in The Netherlands, with minks likely acquiring the virus from infected caregivers, in a similar fashion to what previously found in tigers and lions from New York City Bronx Zoo as well as in privately owned cats in Hong Kong, Belgium, and USA. Since the viral isolates characterized from some of the aforementioned patients in The Netherlands had a genome sequence closer to that of SARS-CoV-2 strains detected in minks, as compared to the isolates identified in the "general population" residing in the same area, it seems plausible that humans (mink caregivers) might have acquired the infection from minks rather than by interhuman transmission. This is of special concern when dealing with the intricate and complex eco-epidemiological dynamics of a natural (and pandemic) infection as the one caused by SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus, a pathogen likely originating from bats (Rinolophus affinis) and which could have subsequently "jumped" into an "intermediate" (and hitherto unidentified) species before making its "definitive" spillover into mankind. This is not an "unprecedented" finding, given that the SARS and the "Middle East Respiratory Syndrome" (MERS) coronaviruses had done (more or less) the same in 2002-2003 and 2012, respectively, and provided also that, even more important, no less than 70% of "emerging infectious diseases" (EIDs) are caused by pathogens originating, either certainly or suspectedly, from animals (2). As a concluding remark, SARS-CoV-2 infection and CoViD-19 disease, which have now reached the dramatic figures of 17 million cases and over 650,000 deaths worldwide, are a complex issue, in a similar way to the vast majority, if not to all the other zoonotic infections and diseases. As a consequence, a multidisciplinary approach is absolutely needed in handling zoonotic EIDs, thereby taking into special consideration the "One Health" concept, a crucial "common denominator" mutually and indissolubly linking human, animal, and environmental health into a common and unique "triangle". References 1) Shi J. et al. (2020) - Science 368: 1016-1020. 2) Casalone C. & Di Guardo G. (2020) - Science (Letter to the Editor, e.Letter).
(F: G. Di Guardo, UniTe, nota pubblicata online in veste di "e.Letter" sulla Rivista Science il 30.07.20 e qui riprodotta per gentile concessione dell'Autore).