PREDICT Success: New Coronavirus Found in Bat Guano at Mining Site in Thailand

PREDICT Thailand

PREDICT personnel (Drs. Supaporn Wacharapluesadee and Kevin Olival) interviewing a monk at the KCP bat guano mining cave. Questionnaires were previously distributed to guano miners at Chulalongkorn University to assess their health status and risk behaviors. 

A new SARS-like coronavirus has been found in bat guano from a mining site in Thailand. The novel betacoronavirus was discovered through the surveillance efforts of PREDICT, which is funded by USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program.

Bat guano is sold in Thailand as a fertilizer for agricultural crops like rice and orchard fruit. Much of the guano is harvested from a bat cave in Khao Chong Phran, a non-hunting area in Ratchaburi Province, about 60 miles west of Bankok.

PREDICT worked with the Thailand Research Fund to collect and screen bat guano for viral families that could pose a threat to humans. Several bat guano specimens tested positive for the virus, which is in the same group as the SARS and MERS coronaviruses.  

PREDICT staff has been working with managers of the non-hunting area and monks who oversee the temple and cave to characterize the risks of viral exposure to guano miners. PREDICT has also been assisting with the design of an improved questionnaire to characterize the risk of human exposure and assessment of interventions that could decrease the risk to miners. 

The figure below is a phylogenetic tree showing 3 novel CoVs (KCP9, KCP12, KCP15) detected in bat guano collected for fertilizer in Ratchaburi Province. Additional human and animal CoVs from the National Center for Biotechnology Information database are also included.

PREDICT Thailand Chart