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National Public Radio (NPR) has a story about how, "for decades, scientists thought that animal viruses seldom jump into people. They thought these spillovers were extremely rare. But in the past few years, studies have been showing that this thinking is wrong … In fact, there's likely a whole group of animal viruses making people sick all over the world that doctors know nothing about. They've been hidden. They masquerade as a regular cold, flu or even pneumonia.

"For example, if you have a respiratory infection in the U.S., doctors can identify the pathogen causing the infection only about 40% of the time. There's growing evidence that the other 60% of infections could be caused by animal viruses such as a dog coronavirus found in Malaysia, Haiti and Arkansas."

Scientists are looking at a basic question, focusing on a particular virus found in cows:  "If this virus can infect so many different animals and is found in so many cows, does it make people sick? Especially the people who work closely with cows on dairy farms or ranches?

"In 2019 and 2020, scientists at Boston University ran a small and simple experiment. They went to five dairy farms in the West and Southwest, and they washed out the workers' noses before and after their shifts working on the farms. Then they looked for influenza D inside the washes.

"The researchers studied only 31 workers over the course of only five days. But they found quite a lot of the virus. 'We found about two-thirds of the participants were exposed to influenza D at some point during our study period,' says environmental epidemiologist Jessica Leibler, who led the study."

KC's View:

The role of disease in our work and personal lives, and its ability to disrupt both, has become a core reality in recent years.  And so, when I saw this story I could not help but share it.