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Severe Wuhan Virus in China May Originate From Snakes, Study Suggests

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A recent coronavirus in Wuhan, China is responsible for the death of 17 lives. It continues to spread throughout the globe despite travel ban efforts. As scientists continue to look for the origin, snakes may be the source of this deadly outbreak.

Scientists have begun collecting samples of the virus from patients to learn more about its genetic code. Researchers gathered and compared it with the genetic sequences of more than 200 other coronaviruses from around. It has since been named 2019-COnv by The World Health Organization (WHO). It’s in the same family of other viruses that affect the respiratory system. People who host this virus suffer immense respiratory inflammation.

According to The Conversation, reports state most of the first group of patients hospitalized were workers or customers at a local seafood wholesale market. They also sold processed meats and live consumable animals including poultry, donkeys, sheep, pigs, reptiles, etc… Researchers believe the origins came from land animals since no strains of the virus are present in aquatic animals.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, it was found that 2019-nCoV appears to be a mix, or recombination, of two coronaviruses — one that is known to infect bats and another coronavirus of unknown origin.

Further examination behind the biology of 2019-COnv suggests this coronavirus originated from snakes, according to Wei Ji, Department of Microbiology, Peking University Health Science Center School of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.

It is possible snakes sold in local food markets caught the virus from bats—their main food source. However, researchers must collect samples from both snakes and bats sold in the market and those from the wild to confirm whether it is strictly market-based.

While there is no vaccine for viruses like these, it is important to understand how these viruses are transmitted and replicated in order to treat it and prevent spreading.

 

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