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What animals can catch COVID-19? Will warm weather, sunlight kill coronavirus?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus (COVID-19), so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

What animals can catch COVID-19?

A new study finds cats are susceptible to both becoming infected and transmitting the virus to each other. Additionally, it found ferrets -- who have similar respiratory tracts to humans -- could become infected.

Dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks were not susceptible to the infection.

A major takeaway is that as vaccines are being developed, ferrets might be a valuable animal to test on.

Are smokers at risk?

If you’ve been looking for a reason to quit smoking, COVID-19 could be it. Prior research suggested smokers have at least double the risk of suffering severe outcomes when infected. A new study suggests why -- smokers develop more of the ACE-2 receptor -- the protein that SARS-COV-2 uses to infect us.

The big picture is that smoking does more than hurt lung function, it probably also makes it easier for the virus to infect you.

Can sunlight and warmer weather kill the virus?

Finally, there has been a lot of debate about the effect warmer sunnier spring and summer weather might have on virus spread.

A new study looking at meteorological data compared to infections in China has found there was no change with warmer temperatures or additional UV exposure -- like sunlight.

The researchers weren’t able to sample a full year of data, since the virus has only been known for several months, but they were able to look at different regions with much warmer and sunnier weather.

There’s still reason to hope summer might bring a change, but you shouldn’t count on it.

More coronavirus questions answered

Here’s a list of questions about the virus that we’ve already answered:


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