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Hamsters can spread COVID-19 to humans, apparently

Hamsters can spread the novel coronavirus to humans, and it has even caused an outbreak

SHARE Hamsters can spread COVID-19 to humans, apparently
A pet shop was closed after some pet hamsters tested positive for the coronavirus.

A staffer from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department walks past a pet shop that was closed after some small animals, authorities said, tested positive for the coronavirus in Hong Kong onTuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

Kin Cheung, Associated Press

Your pet hamster can spread COVID-19 to the rest of your family.

The news: A new study, which has not been peer-reviewed, confirmed ongoing suspicion that hamsters can spread COVID-19 after a pet shop in Hong Kong saw 50 people infected.

  • Leo Poon, a professor and virologist at the University of Hong Kong, and his colleagues analyzed rodents in the pet shop.
  • They found that the pets had all been infected with the delta variant.
  • Later, the researchers found that the pet shop worker who had been infected with COVID-19 had a virus sequence similar to the hamster virus.

What he said: “Both genetic and epidemiological results strongly suggest that there were two independent hamster-to-human transmissions (events), and that such events can lead to onward human transmission,” Poon said, per The Guardian. “Importation of infected hamsters was the most likely source of virus infection.”

Why this matters: The coronavirus can transmit between humans and hamsters quite easily, according to the researchers.


The bigger picture: Scientists have been researching what happens when animals are infected with the coronavirus.