New bat virus called closest known relative of MERS-CoV

Thursday, July 25, 2013
By Paul Martin

Robert Roos
CIDRAP News
Jul 24, 2013

The view that MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) originated in bats gathered steam today with the report that a new coronavirus (CoV) found in the feces of a South African bat is more closely related to MERS-CoV than any other known virus.

The study, published as a letter in Emerging Infectious Diseases, doesn’t solve the mystery of what animal is passing MERS-CoV to humans. But the authors, from the University of Bonn, Germany, and several South African institutions, say the findings suggest that ancestors of the human virus evolved in African bats.

The scientists previously discovered that MERS-CoV is closely related to CoVs found in European Pipistrellus bats. They say their newly discovered virus is genetically much closer to MERS-CoV than the Pipistrellus viruses are.

13 bat species tested

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