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“Virus hunters” work day and night to prevent the next pandemic



While the number of deaths worldwide is approaching 2 million 750 thousand due to the new type of corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic, scientists are working non-stop to prevent a potential new epidemic in the remote corners of the world. In the Philippines, a group of researchers who call themselves “virus hunters” enter dark caves and travel through difficult terrains to sample bats in the country. The team stated that it is very important to monitor bats, which are the source of corona viruses that cause EBOLA, SARS and MERS, as well as the idea that Covid-19 is thought to be the origin of the virus. We also know ”he said.

A group of researchers living in Laguna, Philippines, has been studying bats in remote parts of the country for 10 years, day and night. Calling themselves “virus hunters”, the group said they had detected many new viruses so far.
To prevent the next pandemic, the team travels through forests and caves where bats are known to live densely, setting up traps to catch them. Saliva and excrement samples are collected from captured bats before they are released into the wild.
The researchers hope that the study, funded by Japan and conducted in conjunction with the University of the Philippines, will enable the dynamics of a corona virus to be known by analyzing factors such as the climate, temperature and the ease with which bats spread to humans.
The group’s leader, environmental scientist Phillip Alviola, said, “What we are trying to research is other types of corona viruses that have the potential to spread to humans. If we know the virus itself and find out where it comes from, we will also know how to isolate this virus geographically,” he said.
However, hunting for viruses requires beyond working in the lab, long field trips that include hours of trekking through the huge rainforests and dangerous night walks through mud and moss-covered mountains. Scientists are also targeting bat perches in buildings, setting up fog nets to catch bats before sunset and take samples in the light of torches.
Researchers take samples with small swabs from their mouths and record their wingspan to see which of the more than 1,300 species and 20 bat families are most susceptible to infections.
Researchers wear protective clothing, masks and gloves as a precaution against infection when they come into contact with bats. Edison Cosico, who helped Alviola, said, “The situation is really scary these days. You never know if a bat is already a carrier. What we are after is to find out if there are any other viruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans. There is no other way to stop a Covid-19-like pandemic. ” said.
On the other hand, the researchers said most of the bats they caught were horseshoe bats. Horseshoe bats carry the closest relatives of the new type of corona virus that caused the global epidemic.
Horseshoe bats are included in both scenarios of the World Health Organization (WHO) experts investigating the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
Host species such as bats usually do not show symptoms of the disease, although they can be devastating if they infect humans or other animals. Other deadly illnesses from bats include Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).


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