Bats: the cause of the coronavirus
Recently, it has been almost 100% confirmed that the bat caused the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. In this space, we discuss the terminology that this entails and its implications.
This winged mammal was the main suspect from the start. Bats have an extremely robust immune system capable of tolerating high viral loads. They are also capable of transporting various lethal human diseases. Among these are Ebola, the already known SARS and rabies.
Studies like this one, led by the journal Nature Microbiology, point out that resistance in bats may be due to their ability to reduce inflammatory responses.
Single-stranded RNA viruses – such as COVID-19 – tend to elicit exaggerated responses in the immune system. This can lead to complications… Believed that by limiting their inflammatory response, bats can be carriers of various viruses, and in turn show almost no symptoms.
For this reason, they are the order of mammals that carry the most zoonotic viruses. Those that transmitted between species in the world. Now, what does this discovery imply and what terms do we need to know to understand it? In this space, we explain it to you.
Hosts and reservoirs
A host is that organism that houses another within it. In general, different types of hosts can be distinguished:
Primary: The one where the parasite develops most of its existence, growth, and reproduction. Adaptations of the pathogen are developed to especially affect this host. Also, maximize its reproduction and expansion without rapidly ending its life.
Secondary: It houses the parasite only in its initial stages of growth. It linked to the expansion and transmission of the pathogen to its primary host. They act as a bridge.
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These types of hosts are easily exemplified in complex parasitic life cycles. The larva lives in an animal, but then it is expelled into the aquatic environment and infects another species, where the adult develops.
These lines are blurred a lot when talking about viruses since their life cycles are very simple and depend a lot on the immune system of the species in question. Therefore it is more correct to speak of reservoirs.
A reservoir host is a primary host harboring an infectious agent or parasite that may also occasionally invade the human organism or that of a species of economic interest. Thus, the confirmation at hand is that bats were the first reservoir for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The pangolin continues in the spotlight
We have the beginning – bats – and we have the end – humans – of the coronavirus cycle, but what is in between?
For this disease to reach us, it is necessary to have an intermediate reservoir that acts as a bridge between bats and humans. Since they are not usually in contact in the usual way. The pangolin remains the main suspect.
The Department of Health, led by Salvador Illa, continues to list this friendly mammal as the more than likely secondary focus of infection. A sequence of other coronaviruses has recently been discovered in 30 pangolin meat samples. The coronaviruses detected in these tissues showed a genetic similarity of between 85 and 92 percent with ours. These data show the more than possible relationship between COVID-19 and pangolins.
In China, pangolin meat consumed through illegal markets. Thus being able to indirectly put the first vehicle – the bat that shares the ecosystem with this mammal in contact with humans. It is still necessary to clarify the direct relationship of the pangolin with the disease, but all the evidence points to it as a second reservoir.
What is this discovery for?
Knowing almost with complete certainty that the origin of the coronavirus was the bat is more important than it might seem. These data will serve to further investigate the mammal species that are in close contact with them and to regulate the prohibition policies on the consumption of meat from exotic animals.
The best strategy against a potential pandemic is to avoid exposure to the virus in the first place. By hardening species trafficking laws, we avoid exposing ourselves to possible reservoirs of diseases that we do not yet know. Published By Healthzigzag.com
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