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A Real-Time PCR Assay for Bat SARS-Like Coronavirus Detection and Its Application to Italian Greater Horseshoe Bat Faecal Sample Surveys

The Scientific World JOURNAL
Hindawi (The Scientific World)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1100/2012/989514
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Medicine


Bats are source of coronaviruses closely related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus. Numerous studies have been carried out to identify new bat viruses related to SARS-coronavirus (bat-SARS-like CoVs) using a reverse-transcribed-polymerase chain reaction assay. However, a qualitative PCR could underestimate the prevalence of infection, affecting the epidemiological evaluation of bats in viral ecology. In this work an SYBR Green-real time PCR assay was developed for diagnosing infection with SARS-related coronaviruses from bat guano and was applied as screening tool in a survey carried out on 45 greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) sampled in Italy in 2009. The assay showed high sensitivity and reproducibility. Its application on bats screening resulted in a prevalence of 42%. This method could be suitable as screening tool in epidemiological surveys about the presence of bat-SARS-like CoVs, consequently to obtain a more realistic scenario of the viral prevalence in the population.

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