Team of Scientists Investigate Bat Caves in Yunnan province of China

Team of Scientists Investigate Bat Caves in Yunnan province of China


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The limited team of scientists put on hazmat suits, face masks and protective gloves to protect every inch of their skin before reaching the cave. Connection with bat droppings or urine may expose them to one of the deadliest unidentified viruses in the world. Equipped with torches, they set up their nets at the entrance to the dark opening overhang of bamboo trees, and that is part of a vast network of calcareous caves in south-western Yunnan province of China.

Then they wait patiently for dusk. When the sun sets, thousands of bats migrate out of the caves in search of food — and straight into their nets. The scientists catch the nets and gently placed the bats on their wings to sleep with a mild anaesthetic, before delicately drawing blood from a vein.

Daszak is a tracker of this virus. He has visited more than 20 countries over the past 10 years seeking to avoid the next global pandemic by looking for new diseases in the bat caves. What are more, modern coronaviruses? Daszak’s results, and others like him, provide an open-source database of all known animal viruses, through which scientists can forecast that strains will most likely spill over to humans and prepare the planet for a new pandemic such as Covid-19.

COVID Tracker Invented

And one of those, discovered in a Chinese cave in 2013, was a probable Covid-19 ancestor. Work into coronaviruses was not gaining much attention before the SARS epidemic of 2003.

By then, only two human coronaviruses had been reported, both discovered during the 1960s. Predict was founded in 2009. In addition to the EcoHealth Alliance, the Smithsonian Institution, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Metabiota, a California-based organization that has developed an outbreak tracker, it is sponsored by USAID.

Since spreading to humans, the program charges with discovering and responding to emerging zoonotic diseases including coronaviruses. This pays about $200 million dollars over the course of its 10 years of service. Five more human coronaviruses identify since its establishment including Covid-19. Daszak reports that the bats harbour up to 15,000 coronaviruses, of which only a few hundred identify at present.

Daszak’s Organization Studies Cave System in Yunnan

Daszak’s organization focuses on Southwest China, more particularly on the aforementioned Yunnan Province’s limestone cave system, known for its large bat population.

Anticipate operates in 31 countries. A team of virus hunters, part of the Smithsonian Institution, has begun to concentrate on Myanmar and Kenya.

According to Daszak, Southeast Asia and China are of particular interest as large swathes of their populations. Also, make daily contact with wildlife through hunting, selling it — mostly live — in wet markets and eating it. It studied blood samples of people who live near two bat caves in Jinning County, Yunnan Province in 2015. Daszak’s team found that 3 per cent had virus antibodies. It usually found only in bats suggesting they had been prone to them already.

COVID Estimated to be Originated from Bats

Coronaviruses need to be able to attach to their cell receptors. It is to make the leap to humans, which typically needs an intermediate host of organisms, Wang describes. He said this could be a civet cat, a horse, a pangolin, or another animal closely related to humans. But they normally originate in bats, which bear an incredibly high proportion of viruses that can infect humans. It includes Marburg, Nipah, Ebola and SARS, as per Daszak, who co-authored a Nature study on this subject in 2017.

Bats often make up approximately 20 per cent of all mammal species. It assembles in crowded caves in large colonies, making it more likely to transmit viruses among them. When their samples obtain by Daszak’s team they store them in liquid nitrogen. Also, send them for analysis to partner laboratories around the world.

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