Experts have said the red waffles disease, which is transmitted by bites from infected pets, poses the greatest risk to the pandas, whose numbers are in the thousands and have been in decline since the pandemic.
A new study has found pandas in the wild are at higher risk than in captivity, with the highest rate of pandemic-related infections among pandas who were born in captivity.
“The risks of pandas living in captivity are quite different from those in the field, and in some cases, the risks are quite high,” said Dr. Michael O’Brien, who heads the research program at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study.
Researchers examined data from more than 2,000 pet owners of wild pandas and found that about one-quarter of them had been bitten by a wild animal, and almost one-fifth had been hospitalized with an infection.
The pandas that were the most likely to develop infections included the Bengal tiger, which had been the most commonly reported strain.
Another large group, including the grey kangaroo, was also at risk.
Pandas are considered one of the world’s most endangered species, with only about 300,000 left worldwide.
In recent years, pandas have been increasingly seen in urban areas, particularly in the United States, where they were bred to help feed the urban poor.
Some people worry that the pandias numbers may decline further because of their isolation, especially if more people adopt them as pets.
While pandas live in urban centers, they are rare in rural areas, where pandas roam for hours each day, or in the jungles of Asia.
However, the number of people adopting wild pandads is not as high as some scientists feared, with about 2,200 pandas adopted in 2015.
As with all species, pandahs are susceptible to diseases that can be passed to humans.
A recent study showed that the virus in the pandahs DNA is more infectious than the virus found in the human body.
Most of the pandases strain has been eradicated, though the virus is still circulating.