Annals of Thoracic Medicine
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2015  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 218--219

Re-emerging Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: The hibernating bat hypothesis


Hana Fakhoury1, Ali Hajeer2,  
1 Department of Basic Sciences, College of Science and Health Professions, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh 11481, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh 14611, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Hana Fakhoury
Department of Basic Sciences, College of Science and Health Professions, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh 11481
Saudi Arabia




How to cite this article:
Fakhoury H, Hajeer A. Re-emerging Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: The hibernating bat hypothesis.Ann Thorac Med 2015;10:218-219


How to cite this URL:
Fakhoury H, Hajeer A. Re-emerging Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: The hibernating bat hypothesis. Ann Thorac Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 18 ];10:218-219
Available from: http://www.thoracicmedicine.org/text.asp?2015/10/3/218/160847


Full Text

Sir,

With bats as the likely reservoir [1] and camels as the likely intermediate host, [2] the human coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has caused at least 356 fatalities, [3] since its isolation in 2012.

The spike in cases, observed in spring 2014 [4] has repeated itself once again this year. [5] We hypothesize in this short letter that bat hibernation might be the reason behind this seasonal variation.

Like other temperate bats, bats of Saudi Arabia [6] hibernate in winter. These bats arouse in March when food is plentiful and the air temperature is warmer. [6] The emerging bat arouse very hungry and start feeding on palms and various crops leaving droppings or bat Gueno on these sites.

Here, we hypothesize that crops contaminated with bat feces might carry the virus and be responsible for the rising numbers of MERS-CoV cases in March and April. We also propose that the rise in temperature in the following months helps in controlling the spread of the virus. In the meantime, we urge affected countries to test emerging bats and their roosting sites for the MERS-CoV virus and to eradicate the bats if tested positive for the virus. On the other hand, if crops near bat roosting sites tested positive the public should be instructed to follow strict hygiene measures in handling fresh produce.

References

1Wang Q, Qi J, Yuan Y, Xuan Y, Han P, Wan Y, et al. Bat origins of MERS-CoV supported by bat coronavirus HKU4 usage of human receptor CD26. Cell Host Microbe 2014;16:328-37.
2Adney DR, van Doremalen N, Brown VR, Bushmaker T, Scott D, de Wit E, et al. Replication and shedding of MERS-CoV in upper respiratory tract of inoculated dromedary camels. Emerg Infect Dis 2014;20:1999-2005.
3Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV): Summary of Current Situation, Literature Update and Risk Assessment - As of 5 February 2015. WHO Available from: . [Last accessed on 2015 May 24].
4Majumder MS, Rivers C, Lofgren E, Fisman D. Estimation of MERS-Coronavirus Reproductive Number and Case Fatality Rate for the Spring 2014 Saudi Arabia Outbreak: Insights from Publicly Available Data. PLOS Currents Outbreaks. 2014 Dec 18. Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.98d2f8f3382d84f390736cd5f5fe133c.
5Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - Saudi Arabia. Disease Outbreak News. 26 March 2015. WHO. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2015 May 24].
6Alagaili A. Biological, Ecological, and Conservational Study of Kuhl′s Bat (Pipistrellus kuhlii) from Unizah Province, Saudi Arabia [Ph.D.]. Ann Arbor: University of Arkansas; 2008.