Story at a glance

  • Researchers analyzed samples from 301 people treated for pneumonia at a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia, in 2018.
  • They discovered evidence of a coronavirus similar to one found in dogs in eight of the patients.
  • While the study suggests the virus jumped from dogs to humans, there’s no evidence yet of transmission from human to human.

A newly discovered coronavirus that originated in dogs has been found in patients who were hospitalized with pneumonia in Malaysia. 

A study published Thursday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases details how researchers in 2018 analyzed the nasal swabs of 301 people treated for pneumonia at a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia. 


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Epidemiologists from Duke University used a new test that worked like a SARS-CoV-2 test but could detect a wider range of coronaviruses, even types that have yet to be identified. 

Among the 301 patients tested, researchers discovered evidence of a coronavirus similar to one found in dogs in eight of the patients, all but one of them children. The eight patients were treated and released from the hospital after up to six days in the hospital, where they were provided oxygen. 

While the study suggests the virus jumped from dog to humans, the infection may be a dead end as there’s no evidence yet of transmission from human to human. Researchers have also yet to determine whether the newly discovered virus causes pneumonia. 

“We don’t really have evidence right now that this virus can cause severe illness in adults,” Anastasia Vlasova, an author of the study and professor at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), said in a news release

“At this point, we don’t see any reasons to expect another pandemic from this virus, but I can’t say that’s never going to be a concern in the future,” Vlasova said. 

Researchers note that the virus could be the eighth coronavirus known to cause illnesses in people and needs to be confirmed through further studies. This is the first report suggesting a novel coronavirus similar to one found in dogs can replicate in humans. 


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Published on May 20, 2021