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SARS virus originates in wild bats - study
Updated: 2005-09-30 14:42

The researchers collected those bats' blood, fecal and throat swabs, and analyzed their serum samples along with DNA from fecal or throat samples using different methods independently in laboratories in Wuhan, China and Geelong, Australia.

They found that three communal, cave-dwelling bat species from the horseshoe bat family demonstrated a high SARS-coronavirus antibody prevalence. Among them, 71 percent samples of the Rhinolophuspussilus species trapped in Guangxi showed positive.

"The high seroprevalence and wide distribution of seropositive bats is expected for a wildlife reservoir host for a pathogen," wrote the researchers.

The coronaviruses found in bat samples were genetically diverse, but they all show some similarity to the SARS coronavirus that aroused the pandemic, the researchers noted. Genetical identity between a bat virus strain and the SARS coronavirus even reached 94 percent.

Earlier this month, a team led by Professor Kwok-yung Yuen of the Hong Kong University also reported a coronavirus in wild bats to be close relative of the SARS virus.

But compared with these newly found SARS-like bat viruses, the bat SARS coronavirus identified by Hong Kong researchers are genetically more distant to the human SARS virus, according to the researchers.

The SARS-coronavirus found in humans and the SARS like coronavirus found in bats will be collectively called the SARS cluster of coronaviruses, the researchers suggested, noting that SARS-coronavirus may phylogenetically belong to the family of those bat viruses.

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