True, it is not yet fully confirmed. But everything is the main suspect. And they had already done it before. They are bats, the only mammals that fly. A few years ago they were responsible for SARS. SARS is a severe respiratory syndrome that killed 800 and infected more than 8 thousand. Yes, bats are the origin of multiple viruses.
A few years ago they were responsible for MERS (a disease similar to SARS). It infected fewer people, but they died more. A group of Chinese scientists revealed that the 2019-nCoV (the dismal coronavirus) is almost identical to the other coronavirus transmitted by bats.
The New York Times published a report suggesting that the large Chinese horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) could be the culprit.
They are known to be a natural reservoir of other viruses. The rage, for example. And those of Marburg, Nipah and Hendra, which have generated outbreaks in Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia. Scientists studying the origin of Ebola also believe that it could have arisen in these mammals.
This is not really your fault, the naturalists warn. Transmissions usually occur when the human being invades the spaces where they live. It also occurs when these animals are hunted. Either to eat or to market them, as seems to have happened in Wuhan.
Your evolutionary advantage
And what makes them more dangerous? Bats are the origin of multiple viruses, since they have a higher tolerance. They live with them. They are such a large species: they represent about a quarter of mammals. Only rodents – which are close to double – exceed them in quantity. They are everywhere. The only continent that has no bats is Antarctica. And they fly, so it's easier to spread their viruses.
The answer might lie in the way in which the evolutionary adaptations of bats, which allow them to fly, modified their immune system.
There is a theory about it, proposed by scientists from China and Singapore in 2018. To generate enough energy to fly, bat cells break and release DNA fragments. Normally, a mammal's immune system responds to those fragments as if they were an invading organism. And destroys them. But not bats. Apparently, they developed a different immune response.
The EcoHealth Alliance has spent a decade and a half in China studying diseases that pass from animals to humans (zoonosis). In 2017, he published a report in the journal Nature warning about the risks.
"Bats are hosts of a much higher proportion of zoonoses compared to other mammals," they wrote. In 2019, a group of scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences warned that a new infection was likely.
The importance of bats
Bats play an important role in nature. They are essential for the pollination of many fruits, such as bananas, avocados and mangoes. Cmen tons of insects that are vectors of diseases. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, stressed that one of the most important measures that can be taken to prevent zoonoses is to ban the trade of wild animals. It is what China has done temporarily.
Yes, bats are the origin of multiple viruses, but humans also promote their appearance.