Source of coronavirus | Can bats infect human directly? | The Encyclopedia


Source of Corona virus/ COVID-19 

Source of coronavirus |  Can bats infect human directly? | The Encyclopedia

Ever since corona virus started to spread and news broke that the likely source of the Corona virus are bats, numerous cases of people killing the bats have surfaced across the world, because the people are scared that these bats might infect them and they might contract the corona virus.
Similarly, the municipal corporation in Bangalore is getting calls from people requesting the removal of bats from the nearby trees. More than thousands of bats were culled in Indonesia due to fear of them spreading COVID 19

So the question is that were the bats really so dangerous that they could have spread corona virus? If yes, then how and to what extent?
And if you happen to see a bat in your vicinity, how should you react?

Is the corona virus originated from bats?
A virus related to COVID-19 has been found in bats in only one specific species of bats, and in total, there are more than 1400 species of bats in the world. So an ancestor of SARS COV 2 has been found in one out of the 1400 species of bats.

Recently, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) came out with a new report that a new corona virus has been discovered in bats, which is quite similar to SARS COV 2 (the virus which is spreading COVID 19 all across the world today)

Can bats infect human directly?

Source of coronavirus |  Can bats infect human directly? | The Encyclopedia

The detail is that the corona virus found in bats is similar (and not the same). This virus cannot infect humans. It cannot be transmitted to humans and neither you can get infect COVID 19 from it. The virus in bats is different and SARS COV 2 is different. COVID-19 is completely a human virus.

Is SARS COV 2 originated from bats?

The virus in bats is similar to SARS COV 2, Scientists believe that the corona virus is an ancestor of SARS COV 2, and this virus. So this is the reason why it is being concluded in the news that probably, bats are the likely source of SARS COV-2, 

Source of coronavirus |  Can bats infect human directly? | The Encyclopedia
The scientists believe that this virus got transmitted from the bats into another animal and right now, evidence points that it got transmitted into the Pangolin. (Pangolin is a very rare animal, is the world's most trafficked animal. This animal is traded most widely in wildlife trade today.). This mean that the bats cannot transmit this virus to humans directly, even if bats are the source, even if there is a bat which has SARS COV 2, it cannot transmit us the virus directly. The virus found in bats, which is similar to SARS COV 2, is called RATG 13, it is a different virus, as per scientific evidence, it got transmitted to the Pangolin, and when it got transmitted to humans from the Pangolins, then it became SARS COV 2.

In the case of Ebola, the scientists found that this virus originated in bats which got transmitted to chimpanzees or deer and then spread to humans from there. 
So first, there was an intermediate host- a chimpanzee or a deer

Should people afraid of bats or not ?

No, not at all, there is no need to be afraid of bats regarding diseases, particularly the COVID 19, there is no need to be afraid of bats, bats are wild creatures and there is a simple way to co exist with every wild animal- be it a rat or a snake or a tiger. Let them live in their space while you stay in yours. Even if there is a bat outside your home let it be, there is no need to kill them

Nipah virus can spread from bats only when they've eaten a fruit, they chew the fruit and then throw it and if you make the mistake of picking up a dropped fruit and eating it, then you have chances of contracting the Nipah virus and not only bats, if you come into contact with the saliva of any animal that if you directly consume a contaminated thing- then you will contract some other disease if not Nipah.

Why all these viruses originate in bats?

There are two reasons for this actually
Firstly, the immune system of bats is extremely strong and bats are the sole mammals that fly. A unique feature about bats is that they have a very strong immune system, this is the reason why most of these viruses originate in bats, because the viruses get a live host and a transmitter that can transmit it to other animals. The immune system of the bats is so string, it can be used to develop a vaccine in some way.

Several labs are studying the immune system of the bats. The bats live for quite long, they weigh 5-6 grams and live for 20-30 years

Bats are an extremely important animal species in reality

It has two important functions
  • Pollination of flowers and fruits
  • Control of pests
This function is very important especially in farm and agriculture areas, because the extent to which the bats control the pests by eating mosquitoes and insects cannot be done even by the pesticides, scientists have estimated that the cocoa farmers in Indonesia, the worth of the help that the bats do in controlling their pests is worth 800 million US dollars. If bats are not there then the farmers would have to spend this much money annually for pest control in their farms. Similarly, it has been estimated that in the US, the bats save 22 billion US dollars every year for the corn farmers in pest control

The population of the mosquitoes and insects will grow in the absence of bats. If the population of bats would drop in an area, then it'd mean that the population of mosquitoes in that area would be more and the diseases spread by them would also rise. For example- Dengue and Chikungunya. A cyclone hit us recently. But this time, the cyclone traveled through a path besides the mangroves but if the cyclones travel through the mangroves, they control the force of the cyclones to a large extent

Bats are the creatures that pollinate the flowers of the mangroves the most, so this is very important function of the bats this means that bats are responsible for saving the mangroves. So it is very essential to save the bats in order to deal with the future natural disasters

The bats help in the spread of mangroves. If the mangroves are kept intact along the coasts then it would increase the chances of staying safe from natural calamities like cyclones. So the real reason behind the spread of the corona virus is global wildlife trade. The capturing and sale of animals illegally, sometimes for traditional Chinese medicine and sometimes to be used as luxury food.

As for the example of Pangolin, most experts believe that it is the intermediate host in the spread of corona. This virus got transmitted from the bats to the Pangolins and finally infected humans, Pangolin is the world's most trafficked animal. This is the extent to which it is illegally trafficked, so we need to put an end to things like this if we want to stop the spread of diseases.

All the animals around us have some kind of virus or the other, but what is important is how the virus gets transmitted to humans, almost all viruses get transmitted to humans mostly due to human activities.

Our government recently gave permission for coal mining in the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. How will things work out if forests are cut down like this? We will have to raise your voice on issues like this

Bats are important creatures. They are not pests like they are believed to be. We will have to protect them keeping their importance in mind.

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