Tags: Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | Health Topics | Cold/Flu | pandemic | bat | outbreak

This New Bat Virus Has Been Expected for Years

a graphic of how the coronavirus spread from bats to animals to humans to other humans
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 27 March 2020 08:37 PM

This global coronavirus pandemic is no surprise. It was easily predictable after the first SARS outbreak from a Chinese bat 17 years ago, according to a leading researcher studying the outbreak.

"Some people have been hypothesizing this virus coming out for years," World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses associate director Kenneth Plante told The Washington Times. "And when it finally did come out, it came out pretty close to what people would expect it to emerge as."

Plante has been studying the virus since early February at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and concludes but this coronavirus and SARS outbreak in 2003 originated from bats in China and mutated in ways to spread its infection to humans.

"The interesting thing about this virus is that it does mimic its sibling, the standard SARS coronavirus," Plante told the Times.

The original SARS spread to just 8,000 people worldwide and killed almost 800. This one has infected almost 600,000 to date and killed more than 27,250.

"It's not really clear if they have any direct impact on the virulence or the transmissibility," he added. "This virus has been actually remarkably stable in our hands, but there is a possibility that we could see some further mutations that could change the phenotype [characteristics] of this virus."

The virus has had to mutate from bats to another animal and then to humans, then it had to mutate to transmit between humans, according to Plante.

"In its standard form, in its bat coronavirus state, it is not infectious to humans," he said, adding, "Thankfully, the case fatality rate is lower with this virus, though it does seem to be more transmissible."

Plante's study includes samples from the initial U.S. outbreaks in Washington state, because China has declined to provide any samples.

The studies are now homing in on out the virus lasts and spreads on surfaces and through the air.

"The main thing is that we need to better understand how this virus is being transmitted,"  Plante said. "One of the things that might be new is we do have significant reports that asymptomatic people spread this virus, which seems to be a newer trait that was not necessarily proven with the SARS coronavirus the original."

The symptoms of a high fever and persistent, dry cough, do not immediately appear, but can still spread, he added.

"And that right there is possibly part of the reason why it is so difficult to control," he concluded.

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This global coronavirus pandemic is no surprise. It was easily predictable after the first SARS outbreak from a Chinese bat 17 years ago, according to a leading researcher studying the outbreak.
pandemic, bat, outbreak, transmission, study, research
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2020-37-27
Friday, 27 March 2020 08:37 PM
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