Scientists found that a mystery infection that killed nearly 25,000 piglets in China from 2016 to 2017 was caused by horseshoe bats. Public health experts warn that the same species of bats got humans infected with the fatal SARS virus 15 years ago.
The findings, which were published April 4 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, are based on DNA tests. Study authors urge authorities to spot deadly viruses in animals that are known to be common carriers like bats before the pathogens infect other animals.
A research paper states that early identification of coronavirus in bats can help prevent future outbreaks in livestock, while protecting the economy and public health.
The latest study was able to identify the mysterious disease via genetic testing. Tens of thousands of piglets in the Guangdong Province experienced severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even died because of the virus.
The Mystery Infection Does Not Affect Humans
The study revealed a new strain of the coronavirus, which researchers called the Swine Acute Diarrhoea Syndrome (SADS). Fortunately, the disease doesn’t seem to affect humans.
Researchers traced back the virus to a colony of horseshow bats living in the area where the deadly virus behind the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) emerged more than a decade ago.
Fifteen years ago, SARS killed nearly 800 people in China. It is worth noting that many infections that are carried by animals affect humans including SARS and Ebola. Senior researcher Zhengli Shi warned that the viral interspecies transmission is real, and livestock can be sickened by wildlife.
Shi also urged authorities to keep an eye on these deadly viruses in the bat “reservoirs”. She noted that killing all the bats that help the pathogens spread is not a solution.
Wildlife is important in ecosystems,
The researcher explained that humans are safe as long as they keep away from wildlife.
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