Bats Harbor SARS-Like Virus, May Be Disease Source
10/19/2005 5:13:08 PM
Bats that harbor viruses similar to the one that causes SARS may be the ultimate source of the lung disease that killed almost 800 people from late 2002 through 2003, according to a study in Sciencexpress, the online version of Science magazine.
As much as 71 percent of groups of bats trapped in the Guangxi and Hubei provinces of China were infected with SARS-like viruses, called coronaviruses, said researchers led by Wendong Li of the Institute of Zoology and Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Disease trackers who found that animals sold for food called civet cats may have spread SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, to people have said that they might not have been the source of the virus. Bats harbor a number of diseases that can spread to humans, and the study suggests they may have provide a breeding ground for additional SARS-like infections, the study said.