Updated on 7 November 2013
The results are based on genetic analyses of live samples taken over the course of a year from members of a horseshoe bat colony in Kunming, China. At least seven different strains of SARS-like coronaviruses were found to be circulating within the single group of bats.
Coronaviruses are common viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses. The SARS coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory illness and can infect people and animals.
The research is the first time that scientists have been able to isolate a live SARS-like virus from bats. It will allow them to conduct detailed studies to create control measures to thwart outbreaks and provide opportunities for vaccine development.