Chinese researchers have confirmed that the SARS outbreak that killed 774 people in 2002 and 2003 originated in Chinese Horseshoe bats.
The Guardian reports that scientists have discovered two coronaviruses in the bats that are extremely similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic that killed roughly 10% of the 8,094 infected.
The team claims the outbreak could have spread from wildlife markets where the bats were kept or from someone who lived close to a bat cave. The study disproves the assumption that such diseases cannot be transmitted directly from animals to humans.
Chinese Horsehoe bats, named after the ugly-ass bulge on their nose, are usually found in China, India, Nepal, Australia and Vietnam.
The research team, led by Professor Shi Zhengli of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, found that the viruses in these bats infected human cells almost the exact same way.
According to The Guardian, they concluded that the coronavirus found in the bats is 95% genetically similar to the SARS virus.
These findings were reported in scientific journal Nature. The scientists hope their results will improve prevention strategies for future epidemics.
The findings also highlight the importance of protecting the horshoe bat and other potentially diseased species’ natural environments so they are not forced to search for food in populated areas.
Via: The Guardian, Top Photo Credit: Getty Images