Jan 24, 2020

Since the first reported case of coronavirus earlier this year, two studies are only beginning to unmask the possible source of the disease that has so far infected 600 people and killed 18 in China.

One of these studies was published on Tuesday in the journal Science China Life Sciences, a publication sponsored by Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences. It looked at the relationship between other viruses and the new strain nicknamed Wuhan coronavirus after the city in central China where the first case was reported.

Bats and snakes

One of the preliminary findings of the study is that this strain is somehow related to strains that are observed in bats. “Bats being the native host of the Wuhan CoV (coronavirus) would be the logical and convenient reasoning, though it remains likely there was intermediate host(s) in the transmission cascade from bats to humans,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

A second study published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology, through comprehensive sequence analysis and comparison, suggests that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir or intermediate host of the virus.

However, neither studies provided details on how virus is transmitted from animal to humans.

Not a global emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO), on the other hand, doesn’t want to declare CoV as a global emergency owing to the relatively small number of cases reported outside of the epicenter, which includes one in Cebu.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said at a news conference in Geneva, “Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”

Linked to exotic eats

Both studies hint at the possibility of transmission through ingestion as both animals are eaten in some regions. And after all, the first cases of the Wuhan illness occurred in people who had been to a market live animals for consumption.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was also later confirmed to be linked to Chinese consumption of civet meat.

Header photo courtesy of James Wainscoat on Unsplash

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TAGS: bats china coronavirus coronavirus strain health SARS WHO Wuhan coronavirus