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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 989514, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/2012/989514
Research Article

A Real-Time PCR Assay for Bat SARS-Like Coronavirus Detection and Its Application to Italian Greater Horseshoe Bat Faecal Sample Surveys

1Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche Veterinarie, Alma Mater Studiorum-Università di Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Italy
2Dipartimento di Biologia Animale, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Via Taramelli 24, 27100 Pavia, Italy

Received 5 October 2011; Accepted 16 November 2011

Academic Editors: R. Marquet, M. McCrae, and S. Y. Morozov

Copyright © 2012 Andrea Balboni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Bats are source of coronaviruses closely related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus. Numerous studies have been carried out to identify new bat viruses related to SARS-coronavirus (bat-SARS-like CoVs) using a reverse-transcribed-polymerase chain reaction assay. However, a qualitative PCR could underestimate the prevalence of infection, affecting the epidemiological evaluation of bats in viral ecology. In this work an SYBR Green-real time PCR assay was developed for diagnosing infection with SARS-related coronaviruses from bat guano and was applied as screening tool in a survey carried out on 45 greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) sampled in Italy in 2009. The assay showed high sensitivity and reproducibility. Its application on bats screening resulted in a prevalence of 42%. This method could be suitable as screening tool in epidemiological surveys about the presence of bat-SARS-like CoVs, consequently to obtain a more realistic scenario of the viral prevalence in the population.