The University of the Philippines in Mindanao recently conducted a study and found a strain of betacoronavirus in a bat species in Davao.
Lead researcher Lyre Anni Murao said that the virus was found in the long-tongued nectar bat after their three-year-long study, according to a report by GMA News on Thursday.
“Coronaviruses have been living with these bats for a very long time already. Interestingly, we also found out that these coronaviruses belong to a different group compared to the [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] SARS and the [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome] MERS coronaviruses,” she said.
In their study, one out of 49 bats tested positive for betacoronavirus with 2.04 percent detection rate.
Director of Epidemiology Bureau at the Department of Health (DOH) Dr. Ferchito Avelino said the novel coronavirus stemmed from the same betacoronavirus family that includes SARS and MERS.
“’Yung MERS, ‘yung SARS, ‘yung novel coronavirus (nCoV) are all family ng betacoronavirus. Sila ang known to have caused mga severe type of respiratory tract infection,” Avelino said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. The organization added that there are still several known coronaviruses circulating among animals, but have not infected humans yet.
Murao noted that the virus found in the long-tongued nectar bat is not necessarily a threat to humans. “There’s no evidence yet that they can be linked to human cases.”
“As long as we keep the habitats of the bat intact, we do not disturb their habitats, there is a less chance of exposure of the humans to the bats,” Murao added.