Swiss bats carry a variety of viruses – some are at risk of jumping to humans

Swiss bats carry a variety of viruses and can be zoonotic. Credit:

New analysis identifies several viruses that may jump to other animals and humans, including the nearly complete genome of MERS-CoV-related viruses.

Analysis of 18 quiescent and mobile bats in Switzerland revealed that viruses from 39 virus families were lurking. This includes viruses that can jump on other animals, including humans, and cause illness. Isabelle Hardmeier and colleagues at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, publish their findings in an open access journal. PLOS ONE June 16, 2021.

There are few known examples of viruses that cause diseases that jump directly from bats to humans, but some viruses carried by bats jump to other animals and then infect humans. For example, the virus behind the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, is thought to be derived from a virus that infects another animal from a bat before it infects humans.

By monitoring viruses that lie in bats around the world, we can improve our understanding and detection of viruses that pose a risk to humans. However, previous studies have investigated viruses carried by bats in several countries, but none have focused on Switzerland.

To fill that knowledge gap, Hardmeier and colleagues investigated the virus carried by more than 7,000 bats in Switzerland. Specifically, we analyzed the DNA and RNA sequences of the virus found in organs, feces, or fecal samples collected from bats.

This genomic analysis reveals the existence of 39 different viral families, including 16 families previously found to be able to infect other vertebrates and to other animals and humans. became. Further analysis of this at-risk virus reveals that one of the bat colonies investigated contains a nearly complete genome of the virus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) -related coronavirus (CoV). became. Although MERS-CoV-related viruses are not known to cause disease in humans, MERS-CoV was the cause of the 2012 epidemic.

The authors state that genomic analysis of bat fecal samples could be a useful tool for continuous monitoring of bat-laden viruses, including MERS-CoV-related viruses. This type of follow-up potentially detects the accumulation of genetic mutations in viruses that can increase the risk of transmission to other animals, enabling early detection of viruses that pose a danger to humans.

The authors add: “Swiss-specific bat metagenomic analysis revealed a wide variety of viral genomes. Virus genomes from 39 different viral families were detected, 16 of which were coronavirus, adenovirus, hepevirus, and rotavirus. It is known to infect vertebrates such as A and H and parvovirus. “

References: Metagenomic analysis of fecal and tissue samples from 18 endemic bat species in Switzerland by Hardmeier I, Aeberhard N, Qi W, Schoenbaechler K, Kraettli H, Hatt JM et al. Various viral compositions, including one virus, have been revealed. ”June 16, 2021 PLoS ONE..
DOI: 10.1371 /journal.pawn.0252534

Funding: The CF was supported by the University of Zurich Science and Humanities Research Foundation (Grant No. STWF-19-013). The funder was not involved in study design, data collection, analysis, publication decisions, or manuscript preparation. Swiss bats carry a variety of viruses – some are at risk of jumping to humans

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