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NEWS: Bats May Be SARS Source

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posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 04:37 PM
40 Percent of Hong Kong Horseshoe bats have been found to carry a smiliar virus to SARS, Severe Acute Respiratroy Syndrome. The bats are a valued food source and counted as a delicacy in many areas of Asia along with being used in Chinese Medicines. SARS Coronavirus is a new virus that emerged from China in 2002 and spread quickly by Airline travel, killing 700 people and infecting over ten times that figure. SARS coronavirus was isolated from caged animals including Civets and Raccoon Dogs found in Asia's wildlfie markets but new evidence suggests they may have only served as an amplification host and provided the environment for the genetic mutations causing the virus to spread human to human and animal to human. Researchers have now studied wildlife around Hong Kong that came in contact with the Civets and found the positive results in the Horseshoe Bat.
They said the horseshoe bats, valued both as food and for their use in Chinese medicine, should be handled with great care. They may have helped spread the virus among different species of animals, the researchers said.

The researchers could not determine how the bats were originally infected or whether bats were responsible for transmitting the SARS coronavirus to other mammals including the civets.

But because bat faeces are used in Chinese traditional medicine, and bat meat is considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, the researchers suggest caution in handling them

"Interestingly, the nearest wildlife market previously found to have animals with SARS in Shenzhen is only 10 miles (17 kilometres) away from the locations with bats harbouring bat-SARS in (Hong Kong)," the researchers wrote.

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Washington Post
Yuen Kwok-yung _ who led a University of Hong Kong study into the severe acute respiratory syndrome _ said bats tend to live in tunnels and caves and shy away from human contact.

"They are afraid of humans and they need a large number of insects, mosquitoes and so on to feed on, so they won't approach you for no reason," Yuen said.

Yuen's study showed about half of the 25 proteins found in Chinese horseshoe bats are 98 percent the same as those in the SARS virus found in humans.

Coronaviruses usually only cause cold and flu like symptoms but SARS has an extremely high fatality rate. Analysis of the Bat SARS has found it to be very closely related to Human SARS.

This is a positive move in discovering the cause of the SARS virus. Bats have been long thought in some circles to be the bringer of disease, gaining the humble bat a poor reputation in Hollywood films over the years.

[edit on 10-9-2005 by Mayet]

[edit on 10-9-2005 by Mayet]

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