Bats were found responsible for the transmission of SARS-CoV and MERS-C0V
Doctors and scientists are doing studies and research to better understand the origin of coronavirus COVID-19 and how it is transmitted.
Experts have found out that coronavirus family diseases are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. According to World Health Organization (WHO), MERS-CoV was transmitted to animals by dromedary camels and SARS-CoV from civet cats. However, it is believed that both the viruses are believed to have originated from bats and subsequently passed on to other animals.
While researchers are yet to finalize how coronavirus COVID-19, which first originated in the wet market of Wuhan, originated, many believe it could be traced back to bats.
Do viruses originate from bats?
Many studies across the world have found that bats are a natural reservoir for a large number of zoonotic viruses that have caused outbreaks in many countries in the past. These include Nipah, rabies, Hendra, Marburg and more.
The global SARS outbreak in 2002-2004 which led to almost 800 deaths in more than 12 countries, was traced back to the horseshoe variety of bats in 2017.
Researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology in China traced the origin of SARS virus to the horseshoe variety of bats in a cave in China’s southeastern Yunnan province. Virologists investigated for years in the caves of china before finding that the horseshoe bats had the virus strains which matched the ones which had been transmitted to humans.
Some experts believe that the coronavirus COVID-19 could also be traced back to the same variety of bats.
What makes Bats survive the viruses inside them?
Bats carry a host of viruses without becoming ill apart from rabies, which affects them. Studies suggest that bats, which are 25 per cent of all mammal species, have developed stronger immune systems through the process of evolution which also enabled them to fly.
It is said that when bats fly, the energy requirements in their bodies cause cells to break down into bits of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) which are then released. In most of the other organisms, DNA particles are treated as foreign invading bodies but in bats, such response is muted.
Bats do not develop inflammations due to this weakened response which can cause a considerable toll on the body’s energy. This phenomenon is considered as the reason why so many viruses can exist in their bodies.
American Society of Microbiology that predicted the emergence of a SARS-like coronavirus outbreak, in a 2007 study wrote that coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new outbreaks and genotypes.
They said that the presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats and the eating habits of eating exotic mammals in the southern part of china combines to form a time bomb. Researchers from the American Society of Microbiology said that there is a possibility of re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses from laboratories and animals. So, we should be prepared for these kinds of epidemic situations.
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