When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head back in December 2019 in China, scientists suspected it transferred from a bat to humans in a meat market where live animals are housed and slaughtered. The nature of these markets, where humans are in close proximity during the slaughter of the animals, increases the risk of disease transmission to people from animal-borne diseases. Now scientists are heading back to Wuhan to trace the disease again. They will be looking at the wild and farmed animals sold in these meat markets. Their search for antibodies in animals might take them to areas outside of China to neighboring Asian countries.
Coronaviruses are a very large family of viruses and it is in only rare cases that they jump species lines.
Throughout 2020 there have been documented cases of humans passing COVID-19 to other species, the first being a tiger in a New York zoo. Documented cases where captive animals became sick after contacting COVID from people are cats, especially large cats, dogs, ferrets and farmed mink. In Denmark the new strain of COVID-19 that is more contagious than the first form of the virus, has been found in mink farms. Scientists believe they got the virus from the farm workers, then the virus mutated and spread from mink back to humans. The latest species to be documented with COVID-19 are western lowland gorillas contained at the San Diego Zoo. They were tested after several of them presented with congestion and coughing symptoms.
The CDC recommends that people who suspect they have the virus, or have been confirmed with COVID-19, should avoid contact with other animals, including pets, livestock and wildlife.