NORFOLK, Va. — The deadly coronavirus continues its spread across the world. The latest report from the World Health Organization confirms 6,065 cases globally. But there are 9,239 suspected cases in China alone. The epicenter of the virus falls in the major city of Wuhan.
That is where our question begins.
Social media is littered with claims that this current outbreak of coronavirus is linked to people eating bats. One shows a woman eating bats in what appears to be some kind of soup. Others show people eating mice and frogs with chopsticks.
So is there a link to eating these animals, and spreading the coronavirus?
To verify this, we have to dig into the background of coronavirus. Maybe you've never heard of it before, but the virus has been around for decades. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information scientists first identified it in the 1960s. Coronavirus is in the same family as other respiratory diseases like SARS.
This is where the link probably originates, and it gets complicated. Scientists claim SARS was originally passed to humans by bats. Snakes in the Wuhan region often hunt bats and here is the link to people.
A new study published in the Journal of Medical Virology hypothesized that a similar virus passed from bats to snakes. That's when the virus mutated after infecting a snake, and that mutation allowed the virus to infect a human host becoming what we now know as this current strain of the Coronavirus, which has temporarily been named "2019-nCoV".
The theory is that those infected snaked were sold at a seafood market in Wuhan where they were sold to people as food.
We can't say for sure where the virus came from, but right now the leading research says this strain of Coronavirus didn't come from people eating bats but from snakes.