FRONT PAGES: Scientists Discover SARS-CoV-2-Related Coronaviruses In Cambodian Bats From 2010

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

Newswise) A team of scientists has identified coronaviruses that are closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in two bats collected in Cambodia over a decade ago. The discovery described in the journal Nature Communications, along with the recent detection of the closest ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 known to date in cave-dwelling bats in Laos, indicates that SARS-CoV-2-related viruses that cause COVID-19 have a much wider geographic distribution than previously reported and further supports the hypothesis that the pandemic originated via spillover of a bat-borne virus.

Scientists used metagenomic sequencing to identify the nearly identical viruses in two Shamel’s horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus shameli) originally sampled in 2010. The finding suggests that SARS-CoV-2 related viruses likely circulate via multiple Rhinolophus species. The authors suggest that our current knowledge of the geographical distribution of SARS-CoV lineages and SARS-CoV-2 linesages may reflect a lack in sampling in Southeast Asia or the Greater Mekong Subregion. This region includes Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as well as the Yunnan, Guanxi and Guanxi regions of China.

The authors also note that pangolins and certain species of cat and civet found in this region are susceptible to SARS-2 infection and could be intermediary hosts. One of the 2020, sublineages of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was found in different groups of pangolins that were seized in anti-smuggling operations. It exhibited strong sequence similarity with SARS-CoV-2 within the receptor biding domain. It is impossible to determine the exact location of these pangolins, but it is important that the pangolin species’ natural geographic range Manis javanica corresponds to Southeast Asia rather than China.

Said Dr. Lucy Keatts of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Health Program and a co-author of the study: “These findings underscore the importance of increased region-wide investment in bridging capacity for sustainable surveillance of pathogens in wildlife, through initiatives such as WildHealthNet. Southeast Asia is home to a wide range of wildlife, and a large wildlife trade puts people in direct contact of wild hosts of SARS-like coronaviruses. There are many land-use changes in the region, including infrastructure development, urbanization, and agricultural expansion. These can lead to increased contact between bats, domestic animals, and humans. Continued and expanded surveillance of bats and other key wild animals in Southeast Asia is a crucial component of future pandemic preparedness and prevention.”

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WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS brings together its knowledge from the aquarium, field and aquarium to accomplish its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.

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