I’m confused. I learn that the Wuhan Covid-19 coronavirus was initially regarded as unfold by snakes. However now they are saying it’s unfold by bats. Which is it, snakes or bats?
The Wuhan virus is believed to have originated from a wildlife moist market within the metropolis of Wuhan within the Hubei province of China, which sells each snakes and bats, in addition to different unique wildlife, for consumption.
These wildlife animals have been on the market each useless and alive.
The market has been closed since Jan 1 (2020). However a while in December (2019), a coronavirus crossed over from considered one of these animals to people for the primary time.
A principle was printed in a Chinese language paper by a gaggle of Chinese language scientists, claiming that the coronavirus was unfold by snakes.
In fact, the media picked this up and sensationally labelled it the “snake flu”.
Different scientists don’t imagine this, nonetheless.
The brand new coronavirus, formally named Covid-19, is most carefully associated to a gaggle of coronaviruses that usually infect bats.
Nonetheless, the story doesn’t finish there. As it’s winter in China and the bats are hibernating, some scientists imagine that the virus handed from bats to a different intermediate host.
An intermediate host? You imply, one other doable animal that passes on the coronavirus to people from bats?
Sure, that’s what an intermediate host is.
So the “snake flu” group of scientists imagine that bats transmitted the coronavirus to an intermediate host, snakes.
They declare that their principle is backed by genetic evaluation.
They studied the genetic sequencing of 2019-nCoV and located an overlap between it and the Chinese language cobra, in addition to the many-banded krait.
However different scientists dispute this as a result of coronaviruses normally infect mammals and never reptiles.
Nonetheless, it’s early days but and scientists are working across the clock to search out out the precise host of 2019-nCoV, and any doable intermediate hosts.
What have been different current virus epidemics transmitted by?
The SARS (extreme acute respiratory syndrome) virus was discovered to have been transmitted by civet cats, nevertheless it was a coronavirus that originated in bats.
It first appeared in Hong Kong in 2003 and precipitated a worldwide panic, should you bear in mind. Right here, the intermediate host was civet cats.
Let’s bear in mind how the world snuffed out the SARS coronavirus, which was far deadlier than the Wuhan virus and killed at a better fee.
When the SARS outbreak occurred, the world reacted shortly.
They remoted contaminated sufferers.
China banned the consuming of civet cats and carried out a mass slaughter of all civet cats in moist markets.
SARS died down within the inhabitants.
It nonetheless exists, however solely in folks working with it in labs.
After that, we had MERS-CoV.
Aha, MERS-CoV was a Center Jap flu. I bear in mind it was transmitted by camels. Proper?
Appropriate. MERS-CoV can also be a coronavirus. It additionally originated in bats and camels have been the intermediate hosts.
As soon as these viruses bounce into people, human-to-human transmission happens in a short time.
Fortunately, MERS-CoV was fairly properly contained. Many of the circumstances occurred in Saudi Arabia.
Additional again, I bear in mind the Nipah virus. Was that transmitted by bats?
The Nipah virus originated in 1998 in Ipoh, Perak.
This virus just isn’t a coronavirus, however a Henipavirus. It originated in fruit bats.
Right here, the intermediate host was pigs, with the illness first showing in pig farmers.
The Nipah virus was one of many deadliest viruses, inflicting demise in 50% to 70% of sufferers contaminated by it.
Malaysia needed to cull so many pigs at the moment. The pig farmers have been hit very exhausting, however the virus was contained.
The Nipah virus nonetheless exists and causes outbreaks at times, particularly in Bangladesh and India.
It’s thought that bats are the direct trigger as a result of they infect palm sap and fruits.
When people drink toddy constructed from the palm sap and eat the fruits, the virus jumps into them.
Are there every other viruses transmitted by bats?
Sure. One other virus is the Ebola virus, which causes haemorrhagic fever, and is usually present in West Africa.
It is usually very deadly, killing half of sufferers who catch it.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 and nonetheless causes sporadic outbreaks immediately.
The pure host is regarded as the fruit bat. It then jumps into intermediate hosts like monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees or porcupines.
Due to deforestation and extra people coming into contact with wildlife after which with one another, these illnesses are inclined to unfold very quickly, particularly with air journey and human-to-human transmission.
That is the value we pay for expertise.
Dr YLM graduated as a medical physician, and has been writing for a few years on varied topics resembling drugs, well being, computer systems and leisure. For additional data, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The data contained on this column is for basic instructional functions solely. Neither The Star nor the writer offers any guarantee on accuracy, completeness, performance, usefulness or different assurances as to such data. The Star and the writer disclaim all duty for any losses, injury to property or private damage suffered immediately or not directly from reliance on such data.