The National Wildlife Health Center on Madison’s West Side is conducting research on the new coronavirus, including work to see if the virus can be spread by bats, from which it is thought to have originated.
The center, part of the U.S. Geological Survey, has been testing bats in the U.S. for coronavirus for more than a decade, said Hon Ip, a diagnostic virologist at the center. The tests have never found the group of coronaviruses that include the new pandemic strain, Ip said.
The center plans to do experiments to find out if bats can carry the new virus and if they can be a source of further transmission, he said. Ip will conduct the work with research virologist Jeffrey Hall.
“This experimental infection trial in bats will answer some basic questions that are needed and will begin to provide information on possible wildlife species in North America that might be affected by (the new coronavirus) should the virus become widespread in the continent,” Ip said.
Scientists at the center are also performing computer-simulated experiments to make sure the center is able to detect the virus in wildlife species should that become necessary, he said.
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