Chinese scientists discover 8 never-before-seen viruses on remote island – and fear they could infect humans | The Sun

CHINESE scientists have discovered eight never-before-seen viruses on a tropical island – and they could jump to humans.

One of the new bugs comes from same virus family as Covid-19, which has killed almost 7million people globally since 2019.

The team of researcher tasked with preparing for future pandemics tested almost 700 samples from various rodents on Hainan – an island dubbed the "Hawaii of China".

Analysis, shared in the journal Virologica Sinica, revealed a host of new bugs, including one new coronavirus the experts called CoV-HMU-1.

They also found two new pestiviruses, which are related to killer yellow fever and Zika.

And two new papillomaviruses, which are from a family of bugs that can cause genital warts and deadly cancers in people. 

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A new astrovirus, a family of viruses that cause diarrheal diseases, like stomach flu.

They also found two new parvoviruses, which can cause flu-like symptoms – especially in children.

The bugs have raised concern as they possess a "high probability" of crossing the species barrier and infecting humans, the experts said.

Hainan, home to about 9million people, is an island near the south Eastern Cost of China, near Vietnam.

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Other such unknown viruses likely exist in similar parts of the world, the scientists explained.

"The results expand our knowledge of viral classification and host range and suggest there are highly diverse, undiscovered viruses that have evolved independently in their unique wildlife hosts in inaccessible areas," they said.

"If these viruses cross the host barrier, they are highly possible to cause zoonosis (when a disease that jumps from animals to humans). 

"The pathogenicity and associated impact of these novel viruses on humans and animals should be evaluated in further studies."

Rats carrying diseases pose a huge threat to humans and potential outbreaks.

This is because they "have a strong reproductive ability" and thrive in  in densely populated areas like cities, where they are have "many opportunities to interact with humans," the experts said,

Some of the most devastating pandemics have come from animals, including the Black Death, the global flu outbreak of 1918 HIV/AIDS and Covid-19.

Today, zoonotic disease account for about two-thirds of human infectious diseases. They cause about a billion cases of human illness and millions of deaths each year.

Scientists have warned the next pandemic is likely to emerge from animals because of habitat destruction, close contact and the selling of live wild animals in so-called 'wet-markets'.

The new study, funded by the Chinese Government, analysed 682 anal and throat swabs collected from various rodents captured on Hainan between 2017 and 2021. 

These samples, which were categorised by specific rodent species and location on the island, were then sent for labs to be examined.

Virologist Shi Zhengli, nicknamed China's "bat woman", edits Virologica Sinica.

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