Published time: 09 April 2020
Authors: Valitutto, Marc T.; Aung, Ohnmar; Tun, Kyaw Yan Naing; Vodzak, Megan E.; Zimmerman, Dawn; Yu, Jennifer H.; Win, Ye Tun; Maw, Min Thein; Thein, Wai Zin; Win, Htay Id Htay; Dhanota, asjeet; Ontiveros, Victoria; Smith, Brett; Goldstein, Tracey; Johnson, Christine K.; Murray, Suzan; Mazet, Jonna
Keywords: Covid-19, Myanmar
The recent emergence of bat-borne zoonotic viruses warrants vigilant surveillance in their natural hosts. Of particular concern is the family of coronaviruses, which includes the causative agents of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and most recently, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), an epidemic of acute respiratory illness originating from Wuhan, China in December 2019. Viral detection, discovery, and surveillance activities were undertaken in Myanmar to identify viruses in animals at high risk contact interfaces with people. Free-ranging bats were captured, and rectal and oral swabs and guano samples collected for coronaviral screening using broadly reactive consensus conventional polymerase chain reaction. Sequences from positives were compared to known coronaviruses. Three novel alpha coronaviruses, three novel beta coronaviruses, and one known alphacoronavirus previously identified in other southeast Asian countries were detected for the first time in bats in Myanmar. Ongoing land-use change remains a prominent driver of zoonotic disease emergence in Myanmar, bringing humans into ever closer contact with wildlife, and justifying continued surveillance and vigilance at broad scales.
Detection of novel coronaviruses in bats in Myanmar