THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The mutation that happened to Novel Coronavirus in six countries has sparked concerns in Kerala also. The state health department which is closely monitoring the situation is learnt to have sought the help of the Animal Husbandry Department to identify the mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus - which is now known as 'cluster 5' - in the state's context. The mutation that has now been reported appears to have spread from animals (mainly mink) to humans.
These types of outbreaks have been reported from Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Spain and the US. At the same time, officials point out that the state’s infrastructure is grossly inadequate to tackle the challenges due to the absence of high-end facilities at centres like State Institute for Animal Diseases.
"The reports that are coming out are worrying. Definitely, it is another challenge. The department will work in tandem with the Animal Husbandry Department to get a clear picture and initiate necessary measures to prevent transmission from humans to animals and back to humans," said an officer, who is part of the state-level team in COVID management.
Meanwhile, an official at the State Laboratory for Livestock Marine and Agri Products (SLMAP) under Animal Husbandry Department said that any cases of human to animal transmission of Covid- 19 and vice-versa are yet to be documented in the state.
The official said that, in the light of emerging incidents, special care should have to be taken in the case of pets, especially cats. "Chances are high that the virus can spread from people to animals in some situations, especially after coming into close contact with a person who is COVID positive. This was what happened at the mink farms in Denmark. In Kerala it looks like cats are a potential source of getting infected with SARS-CoV-2. The same is the case with dogs. The livestock is also susceptible to the virus," said the official at SLMAP.
Earlier, in a guideline released by the health department in February, it was highlighted that unusual signs and symptoms or deaths in pets/domestic/ farm animals should be reported to the veterinary authorities. A warning was also issued against the unique chance for viruses to spill over from domestic/wild animals to human population.