Reverse Zoonosis of COVID-19: Lessons From the 2009 Influenza Pandemic
Over the past decade, pandemics caused by pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza virus in 2009 and severe acute respiratory syndrome virus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in 2019 have emerged. Both are high-impact respiratory pathogens originating from animals. Their wide distribution in the human population subsequently results in an increased risk of human-to-animal transmission: reverse zoonosis. Although there have only been rare reports of reverse zoonosis events associated with the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic from SARS-CoV-2 so far, comparison with the pH1N1 influenza pandemic can provide a better understanding of the possible consequences of such events for public and animal health. The results of our review suggest that similar factors contribute to successful crossing of the host species barriers in both pandemics. Specific risk factors include sufficient interaction between infected humans and recipient animals, suitability of the animal host factors for productive virus infection, and suitability of the animal host population for viral persistence. Of particular concern is virus spread to susceptible animal species, in which group housing and contact network structure could potentially result in an alternative virus reservoir, from which reintroduction into humans can take place. Virus exposure in high-density populations could allow sustained transmission in susceptible animal species. Identification of the risk factors and serological surveillance in SARS-CoV-2-susceptible animal species that are group-housed should help reduce the threat from reverse zoonosis of COVID-19.