A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research has revealed that two bat species, Pteropus(Indian Flying Fox) and Rousettus(Old World Fruit Bats), have tested positive for corona virus. The research, conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, found that twenty nine species of bats in the states tested positive for the deadly virus.
However, the ICMR has said those bats that carried corona viruses are not capable of affecting humans. “It is rare, may be once in 1000 years, that it gets transmitted from bats to humans,” said Mr Raman Gangakhedkar to the media while briefing about corona virus on April 15, 2020.
According to the study, researchers performed identification and characterization of bat Pteropus and Rousettus species from representative states in India.
Representative rectal swab and throat swab specimens of Pteropus and Rousettus bats were screened for coronavirus using a pan-CoV reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene.
“Bat samples from these states were screened, and the RS specimens of eight Rousettus spp. and 21 Pteropus spp. were found positive for CoV RdRp gene,” reads the study authored by Dr Pragya D Yadav, Scientist at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
According to the researchers, this study was a step towards understanding the corona virus circulation in Indian bats. Detection of potentially pathogenic CoVs in Indian bats stresses the need for enhanced screening for novel viruses in them.
“One health approach with collaborative activities by the animal health and human health sectors in these surveillance activities shall be of use to public health. This would help in the development of diagnostic assays for novel viruses with outbreak potential and be useful in disease interventions. Proactive surveillance remains crucial for identifying the emerging novel viruses with epidemic potential and measures for risk mitigation,” notes the study.