Why it’s important to study coronaviruses in African bats

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    The current outbreak of a new coronavirus disease, named COVID-19, raises the question of where diseases like this come from and where the risks lie. By the middle of February almost 2000 people had died in this outbreak, which has also had a global economic impact.

    It is clear that the virus may have an animal reservoir. In other words, it may be permanently found in a host species of animal, where it does not normally cause disease. Viruses can spill over from the host to other animals and humans. Evidence points to a possible initial spillover of the virus into humans and other animals in an animal market in Wuhan in China.

    Bats are prone to act as reservoir for viruses. Chinese populations of the horseshoe bat genus (Rhinolophus) have already been found to host viruses similar to the new coronavirus. This suggests that it’s important to watch out for related viruses in this genus of bats elsewhere, including African countries.

    Read more : The Conversation

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