AGENCIES, New Delhi: Pathogenic coronaviruses have been found in two species of Indian bats – Indian Flying Fox and Rousettus (old world fruit bats) – a scientific study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed.
Swab samples of 25 of these bat species collected from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry tested positive after reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests were carried out.
However, it is too early to say if these viruses can affect humans adversely as no such study has been conducted on the issue yet, an official source said.
These findings are part of a larger study being done in India for the first time to research the presence of bat coronavirus (Bt-CoV), the source added.
The ICMR study, carried out jointly with a team of scientists from National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, was published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
The outbreak of COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) virus has been linked to bats and pangolins, but there is no conclusive evidence yet to prove that the virus jumped from bats to humans via an intermediary species.
A total of 508 samples of Indian Flying Fox bats and 78 samples of Rousettus bats were collected, as per the study. Of these, four samples of Rousettus samples and 21 samples of Indian Flying Fox tested positive for BtCoV.