According to new research by the University of Zurich, new types of diseases may be transmitted from bats to humans in the future, and these may cause new pandemics.
A research team at the University of Zurich in Switzerland studied bats in the country to understand the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and to prepare for possible future pandemics. The research team identified viruses from 39 different viral families that can jump from bats in Switzerland to humans and cause disease.
According to research, the number of viruses that cause disease is small, mainly by being transmitted directly from bats to humans. At this point, scientists focus on the thesis that the viruses carried by bats are transmitted to humans by an intermediate species. In other words, the coronavirus, which infected millions of people around the world, was actually able to pass on to humanity with the help of a host species. Within the framework of this thesis, scientists detected viruses from 39 different viral families that can be transmitted from bats to humans in their research in Switzerland.
During the study, researcher Isabelle Hardmeier and her colleagues examined more than 7,000 bats. The study’s authors found that bats are ideal for carrying many types of viruses, and because the bats themselves are very immune, these viruses do not harm them. However, for other species, these viruses can be extremely harmful.
For the study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, fecal and organ samples were taken from bats. The DNA and RNA sequences of the viruses found here were analyzed. According to the results, the 16 viral families analyzed have already been able to infect other vertebrates. In fact, the virus harbored by one of the bat colonies examined contained the nearly complete genome of the coronavirus associated with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In the light of the information that has already been revealed, the researchers underlined that bats should be constantly monitored.