For three years before the COVID-19 outbreak our Croatian collaborators together with a leader of our project have been doing the routine checks on the exposure of brown bears in Croatia to the longer list of viral (and other) pathogens. That included alfa-coronavirus that affect the intestinal tract. Around 300 bear blood samples were tested, and all were negative. We have an intention to test the bear samples also to beta-coronavirus (the virus causing COVID-19 disease belongs to that group). However, that will be possible only after the pandemic stops, as now the lab we cooperate with is busy with human samples.
The work on viral pathogens is being done by dr. Vladimir Stevanovic at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, within the BearHealth project and previous projects on brown bears.