By Pankaj, US Correspondent, [RxPG] Transmission of animal viruses to humans poses a growing threat worldwide. The recent emergence of SARS, a coronavirus transmitted to humans from wild animals in live animal markets, reinforces the need for virus surveillance in exotic wildlife. Chinese researchers have identified a novel coronavirus found in bats.
Most coronaviruses are disease-causing agents associated with respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in humans and respiratory and neurological symptoms in animals. In the study respiratory and fecal samples were collected from twelve bat species of which three tested positive for the novel virus (Bat-CoV). All bats testing positive for the virus were healthy when physically examined so it remains unclear as to whether or not the virus is pathogenic in bats.
"Here, we report the identification of a novel bat coronavirus," say the researchers. "It is not known whether this virus would cause zoonotic disease in humans or other animals, but given the catastrophic consequences of SARS, further surveillance work on viruses in wildlife should be encouraged."