Megabats? patient zero? It’s not sci-fi!

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Esteban Serrano, Staff Writer

Wuhan, China has been the epicenter for COVID-19 and more than likely has housed patient zero, although that information has not yet been confirmed. Bats were the suspected cause of the beginning in the entire pandemic, immediately raising more alarms over the wet market industry in China, where the main cause of the virus was believed to have started. Plus many believe that the Chinese Government, had a primary role in the pandemic as well, and failed to sound alarms to the entire world.

Bottom line is that these animals are believed to be the carriers of many different coronaviruses, and many studies have been done worldwide to suggest that. Mr. James Bendele, a college biology major who teaches at Central, did research and even cited a clip from National Geographic’s “One Strange Rock,” as apart of an email sent to students in his Evolution class. The clip depicts Kasanka fruit bats flying and migrating across Africa. “…the straw-colored Kasanka fruit bats literally fly all over Africa,” Bendele says.

“…they are known vectors to carry many different pathogens,” Bendele also says. “These bats are believed to be carriers for Ebola, SARS, and MERS.  Like COVID-19, SARS and MERS are also in the coronavirus family.”

“…the Kasanka bats are members of the megabat family. That’s the group that includes flying foxes and many other closely related species.”

Looking from a geographic standpoint, Bendele describes exactly where these bats could be found. “There are tons of megabat species whose ranges overlap as they extend from Africa throughout the Middle East and into China and other parts of Asia.”

Bendele concludes with simply this, “So, who knows where things like the swine flu, COVID-19, SARS, and MERS actually come from in nature.  They might be natural components of ecosystems in the Congo rainforest – and as man continues to alter rainforest ecosystems, it seems highly likely that more viruses will emerge.”

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