Viruses 14 (3) - [2022-03-08; online 2022-03-08]
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated a search for reservoirs and species potentially involved in back and forth transmission. Studies have postulated bats as one of the key reservoirs of coronaviruses (CoVs), and different CoVs have been detected in bats. So far, CoVs have not been found in bats in Sweden and we therefore tested whether they carry CoVs. In summer 2020, we sampled a total of 77 adult bats comprising 74 Myotis daubentonii, 2 Pipistrellus pygmaeus, and 1 M. mystacinus bats in southern Sweden. Blood, saliva and feces were sampled, processed and subjected to a virus next-generation sequencing target enrichment protocol. An Alphacoronavirus was detected and sequenced from feces of a M. daubentonii adult female bat. Phylogenetic analysis of the almost complete virus genome revealed a close relationship with Finnish and Danish strains. This was the first finding of a CoV in bats in Sweden, and bats may play a role in the transmission cycle of CoVs in Sweden. Focused and targeted surveillance of CoVs in bats is warranted, with consideration of potential conflicts between public health and nature conservation required as many bat species in Europe are threatened and protected.