Bats caught in Thai countryside as researchers probe coronavirus origins

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Press Association 2020

Researchers in Thailand have hiked the countryside catching bats in their burrows to trace the murky origins of the coronavirus

Researchers in Thailand have hiked the countryside catching bats in their burrows to trace the murky origins of the coronavirus

Researchers have hiked the Thai countryside catching bats in their burrows to trace the murky origins of the coronavirus.

Initial research has already shown that bats are the source of the virus, which has infected more than 20.5 million people and killed over 748,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The closest match to the coronavirus was found in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, southern China.

The Thai Red Cross Health Research Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases team took saliva, blood and stool samples from the bats. "Data-title =" Thailand Bat Catchers Photo Gallery "Press Association Images" data-credit = "Sakchai Lalit" data-usage-Terms = "UK only" srcset = "https://image.assets.pressassociation.io / v2 / image / production / cb99b3606375fc91292fc1701522b723Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNg = 320 320w, https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/cb99b3606375fc91292fc1701522b723Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTk3MzgwMTYz/2.54976251.jpg?w /cb99b3606375fc91292fc1701522b723Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTk3MzgwMTYz/2.54976251.jpg?w=1280 1280W "sizes = "(maximum width: 767px) 89vw, (maximum width: 1000px)
The Thai Red Cross Health Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases team took saliva, blood and stool samples from the bats (Sakchai Lalit / AP).

Thailand has 19 species of horseshoe bats, but researchers said they haven't been tested for the new coronavirus yet.

Thai researchers hiked up a hill in Sai Yok National Park in western Kanchanaburi Province to set up nets that could be used to catch around 200 bats from three different caves.

The Thai Red Cross Health Research Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases team took saliva, blood and stool samples from the bats before releasing them.

They worked all night into the next day, taking samples not only from horseshoe bats but also from other bat species that they had caught to better understand the pathogens the animals transmitted.

Researchers carry equipment to catch bats in a cave in Sai Yok National Park in Kanchanaburi Province. "Data Title =" Thailand Bat Catchers Photo Gallery "Data Copyright Owner =" AP "src =" AP / Press Association Images "Data Credit =" Sakchai Lalit "Data Usage Terms =" UK Only "srcset =" https: // image .assets.pressassociation.io / v2 / image / production / aad92f555ce445243d6f656749528d38Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTk3Mzwjjww /image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/aad92f555ce445243d6f656749528d38Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTk3MzgwMjA3/2.54976207.jpg?w=640 640W, https: //image.assets.pressassociation. io / v2 / image / production / aad92f555ce445243d6f656749528d38Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaCwxNTk3MzgwMjA3 / 2.54976207.jpg? w = 1280 1280w "sizes =" (maximum width: 767px) 89vw, (maximum width: 1000px) 54vw, (maximum width: 1071px) 543px, 580px
Researchers carry equipment to catch bats in a cave in Sai Yok National Park in Kanchanaburi Province (Sakchai Lalit / AP).

The team was led by Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, the center's deputy director, who has studied bats and related diseases for more than 20 years.

She was part of the group that helped Thailand confirm the first Covid-19 case outside of China in January and believes the team is likely to find the same virus in these bats.

"The pandemic is limitless," she said. “The disease can travel with bats. It could go anywhere. "

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