A new kind of coronavirus was discovered by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden among red-backed bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and which they called Grimsö virus.
The peer-reviewed study published at the Multidisciplinary Institute for Digital Publishing (MDPI), examined approximately 260 field voles in Örebro county, Sweden, and showed that it is prevalent in rodents in the area.
These rodents, also called red-backed voles, inhabit the forests of the northern United States, Europe, tundra, and swamps. They feed on bushes, berries and roots. Most species have reddish-brown fur on their backs. They have small eyes and ears. Unlike other voles, molars are rooted in adults.
The “Grimsö Virus”, which is considered a seasonal type of COVID-19 and can be transmitted to humans through rodents and mice. According to Professor Åke Lundkvist, Director of the Center for Zoonosis Sciences: “We do not yet know what potential threats the Grimsö virus may pose to public health. However, based on our observations and previous coronaviruses identified among voles, there is good reason to continue monitoring for coronavirus among wild rodents.”
The Swedish scientists warn the public that, “since bank voles are one of the most common rodent species in Sweden and Europe, our findings indicate that the Grimsö virus could be circulating widely in bank voles and also point to the importance of sentinel surveillance of coronaviruses in small wild mammals, especially in wild rodents”.