The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, has contaminated more than 82,000 people all over the world after certain human activity made bats spread the virus, an epidemiologist has now claimed.
The pathogen has claimed the lives of at least 2,801 people, most of them located at the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China. The first case of COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan in December of 2019 and was initially traced to a seafood market.
The Coronavirus Could Have Been Triggered by Humans
Dr. Aneta Afelt, an epidemiologist from the University of Warshaw in Poland, says that the destruction of natural environments may have triggered the epidemic.
She said: “This is because local, natural ecosystems in which animals have vegetated so far are being destroyed. The effect of this is the recirculation of zoonotic pathogens that spread to humans and are spread around the world as a result of global trade and tourism”.
The coronavirus group of pathogens is zoonotic, which means that the virus can spread between animals and humans. Bats are, some claim, most likely the origin of the epidemic. These creatures have allegedly been the culprit behind the other two such outbreaks.
Between 2002 and 2003, bats and Asian civet cats were apparently the origins behind the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. Later, in 2012, the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was also claimed to have come from bats.
When it comes to the new coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus was most probably spread from bats to other wild or domestic animals, and then humans, some specialists claim. However, Dr. Afelt also said that researchers need to take into consideration the possibility that humans were infected with the virus directly from the bats.
She said: “Bats in many regions have been pushed out of their environments, for example, as a result of deforestation, and have begun to use other places and conditions built by humans. At the same time, different species of bats that have never been in contact under natural conditions, have begun to neighbour one another. This, in turn, is conducive to the exchange of pathogens between different individuals and the evolution of viruses.”
Coronaviruses are known to affect the respiratory system by creating a range of flu-like symptoms before developing pneumonia. Early symptoms can be fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, which can be taken for the common cold or flu.
If the coronavirus condition is left untreated, it can deteriorate into pneumonia and kidney failure. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), manifestations of the infection are usually mild and begin slowly.
The WHO said: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.”
In some cases, patients may be contaminated but not show any symptoms of infections. The WHO said that about one out of six people would become gravely ill, and the elderly, as well as people with basic health issues, are most at risk of death.