Bat, the ultimate host of the global lethal coronavirus

Home > Explore

Bat, the ultimate host of the global lethal coronavirus

2017-06-17 23:18:41 129 ℃

A survey of tens of thousands of animals in Africa, Asia and the Americas found that bats were the dominant host of the coronavirus in the world. They had been identified with the cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus outbreak and the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS) associated, however researchers have been unable to determine whether this is a coincidence, or more universal law.

This study suggests that scientists engaged in infectious disease research, through the observation of different geographical distribution of bats, and they carry different types of virus, improve the prediction ability of coronavirus from human to animal infectious sites.

"We can't be less passive," said Simon Anthony, a virologist at the Columbia University in, the first author of the study, published in Virus Evolution in June 12th. "The main point of this research is that we will adopt a completely different approach, through the study of the differences in the distribution of viruses, before they infect people."

Coronavirus has attracted much attention: in 2002, SARS first appeared in China and spread to 27 countries, resulting in 774 deaths; in 2012, MERS coronavirus appeared in Saudi Arabia, 640 people died of illness. A previous study suggested that bats transmitted coronavirus to camels, which were then passed on to humans by camels.

In order to map the distribution of coronavirus, Anthony and colleagues captured and released about 12300 bats, 3400 rabbits and shrews and 3500 monkeys. Their research sites include Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, which have previously been considered hot spots for the virus to spread to humans".

After some efforts, in the local team of biologists researchers under the assistance, with the success of the tension bar net bag in between trunk captured bats. They collected saliva, urine and stool samples from bats and carried them back to the laboratory for genetic testing.

Nearly 10% of bats were carrying coronavirus, compared with 0.2% of other animal samples. Meanwhile, the team found that viruses were the most diverse in places where bats lived, such as the Amazon rainforest.

However, bat species diversity is not predictive of infection risk because only a small number of coronavirus can infect humans. But whether the pathogen can infect humans, and they are in non host species between infectious ability. Accordingly, Anthony and his colleagues observed that the frequency of transmission of African viruses among unrelated bat species was four times that of coronavirus in Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. This may be due to genetic differences between viruses in different regions, or possibly because of the different patterns of communication among different species of bats in different forests.

"It's very interesting that the virus in Latin America is not going to spread around," says Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institutes of health infectious disease institute. "It's worth studying deeply."

Anthony said, their next step is to study the propagation in host and non host species of virus. For example, in April this year, published in the mBio study, they show the team a bats found in Uganda, is highly correlated with MERS virus, because they do not have the ability to bind to human cell receptors, at this stage does not pose a threat to human health and safety.

However, some scientists who study infectious diseases believe that a more pragmatic approach should be developed. University of Minnesota Center for infectious disease research and policy director Michael Osterholm said, researchers and politicians should be limited resources to prevent those the latest outbreak of lethal pathogen research, rather than try to predict what the virus may upload to human infected horses.

Osterholm, for example, said MERS's outbreak in Africa was caused by camel caravans that linked Saudi Arabia to Saudi arabia. Because of this risk, he believes MERS vaccine research and development should be the primary objective of the study. And although the Ebola vaccine is close to being put into clinical practice, it is only effective against the Zaire subspecies virus.

"We are now prepared to respond to the Ebola outbreak not much more than we did in West Africa, so we have to think about it now," Osterholm said. "If we can't prepare for the current epidemic that is known to happen soon, what do we think is more useful for those far away?""

Anthony believes that the two strategies are important. "If we want to have a pandemic first," he said, "we have to understand the process of their initial occurrence."."