Bat Virus Behind The Death Of 25,000 Pigs In China

Chinese scientists have identified a coronavirus originating in bats that was responsible for the deaths of 25,000 piglets in China from 2016 to 2017.

AsianScientist (Apr. 12, 2018) – A research group in China has identified a coronavirus that killed nearly 25,000 piglets in China between 2016 and 2017. They reported their findings in the Nature.

In October 2016, pig farms in the Guangdong province were hit by a series of livestock deaths. At first, investigators believed the deaths were related to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), a common coronavirus in swine, after finding it in some of the animals. But by January 2017, they ruled out PEDV as the cause after it was no longer detected in dying piglets.

In the present study, a team of scientists led by Professor Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, identified swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV) in the small intestines of infected piglets. The researchers sequenced the genome of the virus and discovered that it was similar to another bat coronavirus identified in 2007. This prompted them to search for evidence of the new virus in bat specimens collected in Guangdong Province between 2013 and 2016. SADS-CoV was present in nearly 12 percent of the specimens.

Their findings suggest that SADS-CoV emerged from horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae), the same species of bats which was the source of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Unlike SARS, however, the new virus does not appear to infect humans.

“[The findings underscore] the importance of long-term surveillance for viruses in their natural reservoirs,” Shi said in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that the study should be “a warning of viral interspecies transmission between wildlife and domestic animals. It’s normal that wildlife carry many viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. As long as human society keeps away from wildlife, there is [a] very low chance of interspecies transmission.”

The article can be found at: Zhou et al. (2018) Fatal Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome Caused by an HKU2-related Coronavirus of Bat Origin.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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