The virus, known as BtSY2, is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid, and is “at particular risk of occurrence.”
It is one of five “worrisome viruses” found in bats in China’s Yunnan province that are “likely to be pathogenic to humans or livestock,” scientists say.
The team warns of potential new “zoonotic” diseases caused by pathogens that are transmitted to humans from other animals.
The Covid-like virus found in bats in southern China is one of five viruses that can infect humans, scientists say. Evidence already suggests that SARS-CoV-2 originated in horseshoe bats (pictured)
WHAT IS A ZOONOUS DISEASE?
Zoonotic diseases can pass from one species to another.
An infectious agent called a pathogen in these diseases is able to cross the species boundary and still survive.
They vary in potency and are often less dangerous to one species than another.
To succeed, they rely on prolonged and direct contact with different animals.
Typical examples are influenza strains that have adapted to survive in humans from different animal hosts.
The study was conducted by scientists from Sun Yat-sen University in Shenzhen, the Yunnan Endemic Disease Control Institute and the University of Sydney.
This has been detailed in a new study published as a preprint but not yet peer reviewed. bioRxiv server.
“We have identified five types of viruses that may be pathogenic to humans or livestock, including a new recombinant SARS-like coronavirus that is closely related to both SARS-CoV-2 and 50 SARS-CoV,” the document says.
“Our study highlights the prevalence of cross-species transmission and co-infection of bat viruses and their importance in the emergence of viruses.”
For the study, the researchers collected rectal samples from 149 individual bats, representing 15 species, from six counties or cities in China’s Yunnan province.
RNA – the nucleic acid present in living cells – was extracted and sequenced individually for each person.
In this regard, the researchers noted the high frequency of simultaneous infection of several viruses by one bat.
According to Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, this could cause existing viruses to replace bits of their genetic code – a process known as recombination – to form new pathogens.
“The main finding is that individual bats can harbor many different types of viruses, sometimes hosting them at the same time,” said Professor Ball, who was not involved in the study. Telegraph.
Overview of samples analyzed in this study. (A) Sites in Yunnan, China where some of the samples were taken. The pie charts show the composition of one species sampled at each location, with the total area of the circles proportional to the number of individuals caught. Colors indicate different species (B)
The bat virus known as BtSY2 is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid (depicted in an artistic image). The team did not speculate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, which is related to the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004.
“Such coinfections, especially with related viruses such as the coronavirus, give the virus the ability to exchange important pieces of genetic information, naturally creating new variants,” he said.
BtSY2 also has a receptor-binding domain – a key part of the spike protein used to fix onto human cells – similar to SARS-CoV-2.
BtSY2 also has a “receptor-binding domain” – a key part of a spike protein used to attach to human cells – similar to SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that the virus can infect humans.
“BtSY2 can use [the] the human ACE2 receptor for cell entry,” the team added.
ACE2 is a receptor on the surface of human cells that binds to SARS-CoV-2 and allows it to enter and infect.
Yunnan Province in southwestern China has already been identified as a hotspot for bat species and the viruses they carry.
A number of pathogenic viruses have been found there, including close relatives of SARS-CoV-2, such as some RaTG1313 and RpYN0614 viruses.
The team did not speculate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, which is related to the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004.
Evidence already suggests that SARS-CoV-2 originated in horseshoe bats, although it is likely that the virus was transmitted to humans via pangolins, scaly mammals often confused with reptiles.
SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in bats, but may have reached humans via intermediate species such as pangolins, scaly mammals often confused with reptiles (pictured)
Similarly, the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 is believed to have been caused by bats.
Yunnan, the region identified by the new study, is also home to pangolins, which are eaten in China and also used in traditional medicine.
They were then captured and taken to a wildlife market in Wuhan, more than 1,200 miles away, where the initial Covid outbreaks originated.
SARS WAS FIRST DISCOVERED IN CHINA IN 2002.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome is caused by the SARS coronavirus, known as SARS CoV.
Coronaviruses commonly cause infections in both humans and animals.
There were two outbreaks that resulted in a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening form of pneumonia.
Both occurred between 2002 and 2004. Since 2004, there have been no known cases of SARS anywhere in the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor countries around the world for any unusual disease activity.
Where did it originate?
in China in 2002. A strain of coronavirus normally found only in small mammals is believed to have mutated, allowing it to infect humans.
The SARS infection quickly spread from China to other Asian countries. There have also been a small number of cases in several other countries, including four in the UK, as well as a significant outbreak in Toronto, Canada.
The SARS pandemic was eventually brought under control in July 2003, with a policy of isolating people suspected of having the disease and screening all passengers traveling by air from affected countries for signs of infection.
During the period of infection, 8098 cases of acute respiratory viral infections and 775 deaths were registered. This means that the virus killed about one in 10 infected people.
People over 65 years of age are particularly at risk, with more than half of those who die from infection occurring in this age group.
In 2004, there was another small outbreak of SARS associated with a medical laboratory in China.
This was thought to have resulted from direct contact by someone with a sample of the SARS virus, and not from animal-to-human or human-to-human transmission of the virus.
How does it spread?
In the form of small droplets of saliva, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, it enters the air. If someone else inhales the droplets, they may become infected.
SARS can also be spread indirectly if an infected person touches surfaces such as doorknobs with unwashed hands.
Someone who touches the same surface can also become infected. The virus can also be transmitted through the feces of an infected person.
For example, if they don’t wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, they can pass the infection on to others.
SARS has flu-like symptoms that usually start two to seven days after infection. Sometimes the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms (incubation period) can be up to 10 days.
SARS symptoms include:
- high temperature (fever)
- extreme fatigue
- muscle pain
- loss of appetite
After these symptoms, the infection will begin to attack your lungs and airways (respiratory system), leading to additional symptoms such as:
- dry cough
- labored breathing
- a progressive lack of oxygen in the blood, which in the most severe cases can be fatal
There is currently no cure for SARS, but research is ongoing to find a vaccine.
A person with suspected SARS should be immediately hospitalized and placed in isolation under close supervision.
Treatment is mostly supportive and may include:
- breathing assistance using a ventilator to deliver oxygen
- antibiotics to treat bacteria that cause pneumonia
- antiviral drugs
- high doses of steroids to reduce pulmonary edema
There is not much scientific evidence that these treatments are effective. It is known that the antiviral drug ribavirin is ineffective in the treatment of SARS.