Wuhan coronavirus may have been transmitted to people from snakes

  • A new coronavirusoriginating in Wuhan, China, that has claimed 17 lives may have been transmitted to people from snakes, according to a genetic analysis. The snakes may have caught the virus from bats in the food market in which both animals were sold.
  • The source of the infection is suspected to be a food market in Wuhan that was visited by several of those first infected with the virus. The market is known to sell live wild and farmed animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes.
  • To find out if the virus might have come from one of these animals, Wei Ji and colleagues at Peking University in China compared the genomes of five samples of the new virus with 217 similar viruses collected from a range of species.
  • The World Health Organization held an emergency committee on the new virus, which is in the same family as SARS and MERS.
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