Four days ago, in SSI Study: Denmark's Cluster-5 mink Variant Had Increased Antibody Resistance, we looked at the evolution - and jump to humans - of a Mink-Variant COVID virus last year, and broader concerns over the potential for SARS-CoV-2 to find another non-human reservoir host.
In that blog I wrote:
Mink aren't the only possible non-human reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, and while farmed animals pose the highest risk - due mostly to high livestock densities and greater opportunities for human contact - it is also possible that the virus could establish itself in the wild (see EID Journal: SARS-CoV-2 Exposure in Escaped Mink, Utah, USA).
Timing is everything. The following day (June 29th), the CDC's EID Journal published the following research article, which deals with exactly that possibility.
Volume 27, Number 8—August 2021
Peridomestic Mammal Susceptibility to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection
Angela M. Bosco-Lauth , J. Jeffrey Root, Stephanie M. Porter, Audrey E. Walker, Lauren Guilbert, Daphne Hawvermale, Aimee Pepper, Rachel M. Maison, Airn E. Hartwig, Paul Gordy, Helle Bielefeldt-Ohmann, and Richard A. BowenAbstractWild animals have been implicated as the origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), but it is largely unknown how the virus affects most wildlife species and if wildlife could ultimately serve as a reservoir for maintaining the virus outside the human population.We show that several common peridomestic species, including deer mice, bushy-tailed woodrats, and striped skunks, are susceptible to infection and can shed the virus in respiratory secretions. In contrast, we demonstrate that cottontail rabbits, fox squirrels, Wyoming ground squirrels, black-tailed prairie dogs, house mice, and racoons are not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our results expand upon the existing knowledge base of susceptible species and provide evidence that human–wildlife interactions could result in continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
You'll want to follow the link to read the article in full, and while the risk of SARS-CoV-2 becoming endemic in North American wildlife is probably fairly low, the authors caution:
Wildlife and SARS-CoV-2 are intricately involved, from the initial spillover event to potential reverse zoonotic transmission, and we will undoubtedly continue to discover more susceptible species as the search for zoonotic reservoirs continues. COVID-19 is just the latest in a series of examples of how the human–wildlife interface continues to drive the emergence of infectious disease. Using experimental research, field studies, surveillance, genomics, and modeling as tools for predicting outbreaks and epidemics should help provide the knowledge base and resources necessary to prevent future pandemics.