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Scientists Discover SARS-Like Virus In Bats

“A decade after SARS swept through the world and killed more than 750 people, scientists have made a troubling discovery: A very close cousin of the SARS virus lives in bats and it can likely jump directly to people,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The findings create new fears about the emergence of diseases like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome,” the newspaper writes, noting, “The virus spread quickly from person to person in 2003 and had a mortality rate of at least nine percent” (Naik, 10/30). “Scientists have long suspected bats to be the natural reservoir for coronaviruses such as the one responsible for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome),” according to Science. “The animals have been identified as the source of many dangerous viruses, such as Nipah and Hendra, and have also been linked to Ebola and the new coronavirus causing a SARS-like illness, dubbed MERS,” the magazine notes. “The new results cannot resolve whether the original SARS virus moved directly from bats into humans or via an intermediate host, says Columbia University virologist Ian Lipkin, who was not involved in the work,” the magazine writes, adding, “But it shows that a similar coronavirus ‘has the potential to infect people without an intermediate host'” (Kupferschmidt, 10/30).