Chinese Snakes are the Source of the Deadly Coronavirus
The Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China this winter, CNN reported.
Bungarus, also known as Taiwanese or Chinese krait, is a highly venomous snake species found in much of central and southern China and Southeast Asia.
The disease was first reported at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, the main city in central China, and has spread rapidly. Since then, sick travelers from Wuhan have infected many people in China and other countries, including the United States.
Using samples of the virus isolated from patients, scientists in China determined the genetic code and used microscopes to photograph it. The pathogen responsible for this pandemic is a new coronavirus. It's in the same family of viruses as the well-known severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which have killed hundreds of people in the past 17 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
But when the researchers performed a more detailed bioinformatics analysis of the sequence of 2019-nCoV, it suggests that this coronavirus might come from snakes. The Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have started, is now closed. Scientists used the analysis of the protein codes preferred by the new coronavirus and compared it to the protein codes of the coronaviruses found in various hosts, such as birds, snakes, marmots, hedgehogs, bats and humans. Surprisingly, they found that the protein codes in 2019-, nCoV were most similar to those used in snakes.
Snakes often hunt bats in the...