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Explained: China emerging as breeding ground for new, mysterious diseases


New Delhi, Jan 24: After the death toll in China's alarmingly new coronavirus afflictions has climbed to 25 with confirmed cases rising sharply to 830, there is a growing concern as to why the world's most populous country is emerging as the breeding ground for all the new mysterious diseases.

The latest outbreak caused by a new strain of coronavirus has so far infected over 800 people across central China, spreading from the city of Wuhan, where the first case was identified on 31 December 2019.

Explained: China emerging as breeding ground for new, mysterious diseases

As per the latest reports, the coronavirus, which is from the same family as SARS, has spread to at least eight other countries: Taiwan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, US, South Korea and Vietnam.

According to study, the novel Chinese coronavirus is likely resided in snakes before being transmitted to humans.

According to the researchers, including Wei Ji from Peking University Health Science Centre in China, patients who became infected with the coronavirus -- named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- were exposed to wildlife animals at a wholesale market, where seafood, poultry, snake, bats, and farm animals were sold.

The new virus, the scientists said, developed a mix, or "recombination", of a viral protein which recognises and binds to host cells. According to the study, this recognition is key to allowing viruses to enter host cells, and cause infection and disease.

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    Coronavirus: Death toll in China climbs to 25 with 830 confirmed cases, millions under lockdownCoronavirus: Death toll in China climbs to 25 with 830 confirmed cases, millions under lockdown

    However, initial investigations point to the sale of live animals at the seafood market in Wuhan.

    Experts say that it is possible up to 10,000 people in China alone to have been exposed to the virus, that caused previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, killing hundreds of people in dozens of countries.

    While, in case of SARS, bats were said to be reservoirs of the virus, which transmitted it to civets and then to humans. But, no clear answers were known.

    It should be noted that the SARS outbreak in 2003 was linked to the animal market in China and the H7N9, which spread in China in 2013, was linked to a market of live birds. During the nine-month outbreak, there were more than 8,000 cases of SARS were confirmed and 775 people died.

    High population density and developed transport links often aid to the rapid spread of viruses.

    Now even after so many years, the country faces a similar health emergency.

    The East Asian country had reported the world's first-ever case of an avian influenza virus infecting humans.

    The H7N9 virus, which normally circulates among birds, was never found to have infected humans until China recorded its first case in March 2013. The infections rose to 144, killing 50.

    In November 2002, China saw one of the most deadly outbreaks-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)-caused by a coronavirus. It travelled to 37 countries, infecting 8,098 people and killing 774 in eight months.

    In 2016, too, a new strain of coronavirus was identified in China that killed 25,000 piglets, though it did not infect humans.

    As of Wednesday, the source of the new viral outbreak remains under investigation and researchers have not identified the animal species that might have harboured the virus.

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