Host Diversity and Potential Transmission Pathways of SARS-CoV-2 at the Human-Animal Interface

Hayden D. Hedman, Eric Krawczyk, Yosra A. Helmy, Lixin Zhang, Csaba Varga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Emerging infectious diseases present great risks to public health. The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has become an urgent public health issue of global concern. It is speculated that the virus first emerged through a zoonotic spillover. Basic research studies have suggested that bats are likely the ancestral reservoir host. Nonetheless, the evolutionary history and host susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 remains unclear as a multitude of animals has been proposed as potential intermediate or dead-end hosts. SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated from domestic animals, both companion and livestock, as well as in captive wildlife that were in close contact with human COVID-19 cases. Currently, domestic mink is the only known animal that is susceptible to a natural infection, develop severe illness, and can also transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other minks and humans. To improve foundational knowledge of SARS-CoV-2, we are conducting a synthesis review of its host diversity and transmission pathways. To mitigate this COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly advocate for a systems-oriented scientific approach that comprehensively evaluates the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at the human and animal interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number180
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Animals
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Host diversity
  • Humans
  • One Health
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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