Seven new coronaviruses have been discovered in bats in Gabon, Africa. We’ve known that coronaviruses can jump from bats to people and cause serious illness since the 2002-03 SARS coronavirus outbreak was traced back to bats in China. Covid-19 is another coronavirus that is thought to have originated in bats and crossed to people, possibly via other animals.
The majority of bat coronaviruses identified so far have been found in Asian bats, but a growing number are being detected in African bats. Gael Maganga at the International Centre of Medical Research of Franceville in Gabon and his colleagues recently tested over one thousand bats living in caves dotted around the country and found that 18 were carrying coronaviruses. Genetic sequencing showed that seven of these coronaviruses, which were all found in insect-eating bats from the Hipposideridae family, were new to science. So far, it’s unclear if they have the potential to spill over into people.
Source: New Scientist