Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scientists say Chinese Bats are the origin of the SARS pandemic

 SARS (black dots) surrounding a cell. 
A team of international scientists has isolated a very close relative of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS) from horseshoe bats in China, confirming them as the origin of the virus responsible for the 2002-3 pandemic.

SARS killed 774 people of the 8094 people infected, a case fatality ratio of almost 10 per cent. With cases diagnosed across the world, the pandemic had a major impact on international travel and trade.

While researchers globally have previously used genetic sequencing to demonstrate that bats are the natural reservoirs of a SARS-like virus, this is the first time that live virus has been successfully isolated from bats to definitively confirm them as the origin of the virus.

Horseshoe bats are found around the world, and play an important ecological role. The scientists say that their role in SARS-CoV transmission highlights the importance of protecting the bat’s natural environment so they are not forced into highly populated urban areas in search of food.
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(Image: Sandra Crameri, CSIRO)
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