Bat-Borne Issyk-Kul Virus Detected in Europe for the First Time

As if 2020 could get any worse, the zoonotic Issyk-Kul virus has spread to Europe.
Trevor English

Zoonotic viruses have come under particular scrutiny in 2020 as the coronavirus has spread across the world. However, while SARS-CoV-2 continues to wreak havoc across the world, a new zoonotic virus has been found to have spread to Europe.

The virus, named the Issyk-Kul virus, has been known about for some time now. In fact, the virus was first isolated in 1973 in the U.S.S.R. with the initial finding published in a paper here. Described as a human-pathogenic virus, it hasn't spread into Europe in it's roughly 50-year history – until now. 

Finding the virus

Humans that get the virus can exhibit symptoms of fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, and/or nausea.  

While there's no indication of animal to human spread, researchers are closely monitoring how the virus could've migrated regions. 


Researchers have been more closely examining various zoonotic viruses as they have drawn scrutiny in the age of coronavirus. During the study, the scientists examined organ tissue from 12 different bats that showed signs of alteration from disease. All of the samples were run through virome sequencing to specifically map the virus or disease that might've caused the alteration in the original tissue. 

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After sequencing the tissue, it was found to map to the Issyk-Kul virus. Sequencing of the Issyk-Kul virus can be seen from the study below.

Bat-Borne Issyk-Kul Virus Detected in Europe for the First Time
Source: Nature/Annika Brinkman

After the sequencing results indicated Issyk-Kul, the researchers went back and tested the bats specifically for that virus, 9 of which testing positive. 

The study was published in Nature magazine on December 24, 2020.

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