During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been identified as the
cause of large-scale disease outbreaks–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS
emerged in 2003 and 2012, respectively, and caused a worldwide pandemic that claimed thousands
of human lives, while SADS struck the swine industry in 2017. They have common characteristics,
such as they are all highly pathogenic to humans or livestock, their agents originated from bats, and
two of them originated in China. Thus, it is highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus
outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.
Therefore, the investigation of bat coronaviruses becomes an urgent issue for the detection of early
warning signs, which in turn minimizes the impact of such future outbreaks in China. The purpose
of the review is to summarize the current knowledge on viral diversity, reservoir hosts, and the
geographical distributions of bat coronaviruses in China, and eventually we aim to predict virus
hotspots and their cross-species transmission potential.
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