While the same coronavirus, or one very similar, was recently found in Arabian Peninsula camels, researchers say the strain found in the bat is identical to what has infected at least 96 humans, of which 46 have died.
All cases to date have originated from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Bats are carriers of several viruses that can infect humans, including rabies and SARS.
But since people in the Middle East have little contact with bats, and the virus isn’t passed easily among humans, scientists believe there is another link in the infection chain between bats and humans.
“Is it food? Is it another animal reservoir? That’s something to be determined,” said lead researcher Ziad Memish, who is also the Saudi deputy minister of health.
The findings were published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Photo: Jonathan H. Epstein - EcoHealth Alliance