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  • [Man] Yeah, I remember all this.

  • [Reporter] Bioethicists Kerry Bowman once visited the now-infamous seafood market in Wuhan, China.

  • It was packed full of live and dead animals.

  • A leading theory is that a worker inside this market contracted the virus from an animal.

  • [Bowman] You've got urine and feces spraying from one enclosure to another

  • creating really an incubator for emerging viruses.

  • [Reporter] Now, a newly published paper strongly suggests, like SARS

  • the original source of this virus was bats.

  • Scientists sequenced its genome

  • then compared it to other coronaviruses living inside horseshoe bats from eastern China.

  • They found a close match.

  • Slightly different from SARS but in the same family.

  • [Man] Most of it will come back to bats.

  • [Reporter] Professor Scott Weese studies and treats infectious diseases in animals.

  • He says bats live all over the world.

  • They're essential in pollinating fruit and eating insects.

  • And they've been passing diseases to one another in their vast colonies for thousands of years.

  • But Weese says they also have an important trait in common with us.

  • Bats are mammals so they are related to us.

  • And if certain components of that bat are somewhat human-like

  • it makes that ability to virus across a lot easier.

  • [Reporter] Meaning a virus that likes living in a bat may also like living in us.

  • The question is why don't the viruses sicken or kill the bats?

  • They're the only truly flying mammal and that's got to have some impact on its physiology

  • [Reporter] Peter Daszak studied bats in China for 15 years.

  • He speculates that as bats evolved to fly somehow their immune systems changed.

  • If we could find out you know the chemicals that bats use within the body to regulate viruses

  • maybe some of those could be used as potential drugs against some of those viruses.

  • [Reporter] Flying also gave bats the ability to easily spread disease.

  • Their bites urine and feces can infect people and animals on farms

  • and in the wild.

  • The market that I saw in Wuhan, we counted 56 different species.

  • So a lot of these species and probably almost two-thirds of them were wild.

  • [Reporter] Stopping the sale of wildlife in these markets would help

  • but people are also encroaching on the areas where bats live.

  • Scientists say we need to do a better job studying and monitoring bats.

  • More outbreaks like this one are inevitable

  • but lessons can be learned from this virus

  • with the goal of getting ahead of the next one.

  • Christine Birak, CBC News, Toronto

[Man] Yeah, I remember all this.

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