Science

Watch | Bats and the novel coronavirus

A video based on a study showing bats are more immune to viruses such as the novel coronavirus, Ebola virus, SARS and MERS coronavirus than humans and rats

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China has infected nearly 10,000 people and killed over 200 others. It has been reported that the virus likely originated in bats but no bats were sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where the outbreak started.

In 2018, Kerala confirmed its first case of Nipah virus, another zoonotic virus transmitted from animals to humans. Bats have been on the radar of scientists ever since.

They serve as hosts for numerous viruses including Ebola virus and coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and novel coronavirus. Last year, researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore used Melaka virus, MERS coronavirus and influenza A virus and tested the responses of bats, mice and humans to these viruses.

While inflammation was high in the case of humans and mice, it was significantly reduced in bats' immune cells. The activation of an important protein, NLRP3, reduced inflammation significantly in bats. Emerging zoonotic viruses (bat‐related or not) have often led to extermination of bats. However, they perform several ecosystem services like pollination, seed dispersal agricultural pest suppression, massive mosquito control and guano.

Read more: How bats harbour several viruses yet not get sick

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:35:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/bats-and-the-novel-coronavirus/article30725194.ece

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