The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that when coronaviruses leap from wild animals to humans, the results can be devastating. A new study from Vietnam provides new insights about how this cross-species spread might happen. Researchers showed for the first time that as animals move through the wildlife supply chain, from their natural habitats to marketplaces and ultimately to restaurants, they are more likely to become infected with coronaviruses, according to a report in PLOS One. And at each stage, people interact with these animals more intensively. Pangolin rescued from the wildlife trade in Vietnam. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler Coronaviruses are most notorious for causing human disease—including SARS, MERS, and COVID-19—but they are widespread in the animal kingdom. There are many different coronaviruses, and they can infect bats, rodents, birds, and domestic livestock like cattle and swine. Understanding where and how these viruses first make contact with humans is critical for preventing future pandemics. To do this, the best place to start is at the wildlife-human interface: places where wild animals and humans are exposed to each other. A team of Vietnamese scientists, along with Amanda Fine and Sarah Olson of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, tested field rats for coronavirus at different points along the wildlife supply chain in Vietnam. They found that with each link in this chain, the percentage of infected animals increased by about 1.5 times. This factor may not seem like much. However, it means the infection rates increased markedly: 20.7…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer