SARS: A lesson from the past

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was an infectious disease caused by a previously unrecognized animal Coronavirus, now known as the SARS Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The pandemic started in November 2002 and was brought under control in July 2003, after it had spread to 33 countries on 5 continents, leaving 8,273 cases and 775 deaths worldwide in its wake.
[SARS: Foto: Alamy]
A lesser known fact is that other sporadic outbreaks were reported[1] in late 2003 and early 2004 in Guangdong Province, the region of the People's Republic of China where the 2002–2003 outbreaks originated. However, molecular epidemiologic studies[2] showed that the viruses responsible for the 2003–2004 outbreaks were not exactly the same as those isolated during the 2002–2003 outbreaks.

Like I said in my previous post here, the virus has the potential to undergo rapid genetic change as it adapts to new hosts and possibly even within a host species.

Currently, more than ten mammalian species have been proven to be susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV or related viruses, among them rats, mouses, cats, pigs and humans. But these findings do not signify that these species are the host species.

A study[3] of horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae) in different regions of mainland China in 2004 showed that each of the four species surveyed had evidence of infection by a SARS-like–CoV. Horseshoe bats inhabit temperate and tropical regions of Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.
[Rhinolophus ferrumequinum]
The scientists concluded that the relatively high seroprevalence and wide distribution of seropositive bats is consistent with the serologic pattern expected from a pathogen's natural reservoir host.

Are you perhaps living in Western Europe and feeling relatively safe from the dangers a possible infection with novel Coronavirus (nCoV or SARS-2)? Don’t be, because at least two species of horseshoe bats are living in a territorium near you. These are the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). Has anyone tested these bats yet?

[1] Liang et al: Laboratory diagnosis of four recent sporadic cases of community-acquired SARS, Guangdong Province, China in Emerging Infectious Diseases - 2004 
[2] Song et al: Cross-host evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus in palm civet and human in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA - 2005 
[3] Li et al: Bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses in Science 2005

No comments:

Post a Comment