Are snakes the original source of new coronavirus outbreak in China?


Chinese health authorities announced on Thursday that 571 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported in 25 regions in the country



Snakes may be the original source of the newly discovered novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China, according to a new study.


The finding, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, provides important insights on the potential origins of the most recent outbreak of viral pneumonia in China, which started in the middle of December and now is spreading to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Japan.


"Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV," said study researchers from the Wuhan University in China.


"New information obtained from our evolutionary analysis is highly significant for effective control of the outbreak caused by the 2019-nCoV-induced pneumonia," researchers added.


The study said that patients who became infected with the virus--which is a type of virus called a coronavirus and was named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organisation--were exposed to wildlife animals at a wholesale market, where seafood, poultry, snake, bats, and farm animals were sold.