Bats Could Be Spreading New SARS-Like Coronavirus

Bats could be spreading the new SARS-like virus that was discovered several months ago by scientists. As The Inquisitr previously reported, the virus in question is a new type of coronavirus, which comes from the same family as the common cold but also brought Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The World Health Organization (WHO) had at the time issued a health warning.

The acute pneumonia and renal failure before reminded public health authorities of the threat posed by coronaviruses. Coronaviruses are a categorized group that includes the the SARS virus, a pathogen that emerged in 2002 and eventually lead to the deaths of more than 900 people.

So far only a few people have contracted this new SARS-like virus and died. When analyzing the victims in the Middle East, scientists were puzzled by the virus’ vector method since they have not recorded any human-to-human transmissions yet. The medical researchers hypothesized that the new virus was being spread by an animal, but at the time they did not know how or which species.

“The virus is most closely related to viruses in bats found in Asia, and there are no human viruses closely related to it,” says Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, who headed up the study. “Therefore, we speculate that it comes from an animal source.”

While the viral villain is likely to be a bat due to genetic similarity, experts also think “[i]t is unlikely they would be infected from the same source. We really need to understand whether these viruses are coming from a single source or multiple sources.”

The virus’ full genomic sequence was published on November 13, and Fouchier says “it is a very close match with the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus sequence he analyzed in the mBio paper, showing only 99 single nucleotide differences (in an unpublished analysis).”

“That makes it clear they are the same species. Ninety-nine nucleotides on the full genome amounts to only 0.3 – 0.4% difference,” says Fouchier. “That, of course raises new questions.”

Bats spreading diseases are not new, but a bat spreading a SARS-like virus is certainly frightening. Those with excellent hearing might want to duck if they ever visit the Middle East and hear a high-pitched shrill coming your way.