New discoveries linking BATS to SARS
Finding the natural reservoir for the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)virus has eluded researchers so far. However, scientists in China have pointed to “the strongest evidence to date it originated in bats” (Salleh, 2013). They have found two new viruses that are 95% related to SARS. The SARS pandemic of 2002-2003 was one of the most “substantial public health events in recent history” (Salleh, 2013).
Researchers found evidence that cave-dwelling bats were sold as a food were carrying coronaviruses. They differed from SARS from the binding mechanisms of a host protein, ACE2; which facilitates infection. Initially researchers thought SARS may need an intermediate host to pass the virus.
They discovered that horseshoe bats, from Yunnan province, harbor these new viruses that contain the same proteins that SARS uses to bind to the ACE2; giving the virus the ability to pass directly to humans.
To find out more about SARS, you can visit the CDC website here.
Salleh, A., 2013. Bat origin of SARS confirmed. Online. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/10/31/3880358.htm