Thursday, May 23, 2024

Scientists discover new forms of coronavirus in Ugandan bats and camels

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

A team of Ugandan scientists has discovered new forms of coronavirus in bats and camels.

The scientists from the Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine made the discovery after months of research.

According to the team, these forms of coronaviruses in samples collected from bats in the country are however different from the virus behind the Covid-19 outbreak.

Prof Denis Byarugaba who led the research has said that a number of tests over the years revealed the coronavirus was common in species that live with people.

“We have analysed 16,000 samples and seen a prevalence of coronaviruses at a prevalence of 0.6 per cent,” he said.

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According to Prof Byarugaba the current outbreak provided an opportunity to screened 500 bats. After the tests a mass of coronavirus was detected.

“Through a collaboration with a partner, we were able to isolate mass coronaviruses from bats,” he said.

The scientists also conducted tests on camels from Karamoja with Byarugaba saying that “We specifically looked out for coronaviruses in camels.

We screened 500 camels and we found 70 per cent positivity in our serological tests.”

The researcher want intensified efforts to look for these viruses in other animals for better surveillance purposes.

Meanwhile Pof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director of Uganda Virus Research Institute told Ugandan media that coronaviruses have been  in Uganda for long.

“A number of people have been infected by coronaviruses. If you ever got short cold and cough, it could have been due to a coronavirus,” Kaleebu said.

He said “The virus was first discovered in 1960s. They infect birds and animals.”

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Prof Kaleebu revealed that Covid-19 is proving deadly because it has crossed from an animal to a new host, humans.

“This type leads to severe infection, it can severely infect your lungs. It is more dangerous than these other ones that have been around,” he said.

He added that “The reason could be because it new in humans, it has been in other animals and has just crossed to humans and humans are not used to it.”

The world has been brought to a standstill so far due to the Covid-19 outbreak which has killed over 7000 people and infected over 200,000 people across the world.

A vaccine is yet to be found and developed for this strain of coronavirus.




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