Key to controlling deadly viruses in bat community

Feb 15, 2011
CSIRO PhD student working at the highest level of biosecurity - biosecurity level 4 - at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Credit: CSIRO

CSIRO research into how bats can host some of the world’s deadliest viruses without suffering any ill-effects themselves will lead to improved strategies for controlling the spread of bat-borne diseases.

“CSIRO is helping to safeguard the health of Australians and livestock through a comprehensive research program that examines how bats have adapted to co-exist with some of the most deadly viruses known,” says the leader of a team of scientists at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), in Geelong Victoria, Dr. Linfa Wang.

In an address today to more than 600 delegates at the 1st International One Health Congress in Melbourne, Dr. Wang said the aim is to better understand bat immunology and the bat virus-host interaction to identify strategies to control viruses such as Hendra spreading to other animals and people.

“In order to better control the spread of viruses like Hendra – from bats to horses and then on to people – it is becoming increasingly important to learn what governs the interactions between viruses and their hosts and, in particular, the phenomenon of ‘host switching’,” Dr. Wang said.

“The term ‘host-switching’ is used to describe the situation where a virus spreads from an existing host to a ‘new’ host species.

“In some cases these host-switching events go unnoticed, as no disease develops in the new host, however in other situations the virus adapts to the new species and causes severe disease and in some cases death.” 

Bats are known to be a key source of viruses that have been involved in host-switching incidents – including Hendra, Ebola and SARS – and appear to have developed the ability to tolerate infections with these pathogens that are otherwise fatal when spread to other mammals.

appear to have some kind of ‘viral radar’ – a highly effective immune system which provides them with broad spectrum protection against viral attack,” Dr. Wang said. 

“Our research will assist in developing faster, more sensitive surveillance tools that may radically change the risk management of zoonotic diseases within Australia and worldwide. 

“That will mean we can move forward from just responding when an outbreak occurs, to putting pre-emergence surveillance and prevention strategies in place.”

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New reovirus isolated

Jun 27, 2007

CSIRO scientists have played a key role in discovering that bats are the likely host of a new virus that can cause a serious but apparently non-fatal respiratory tract illness in humans.

Modern society made up of all types

Nov 04, 2010

Modern society has an intense interest in classifying people into ‘types’, according to a University of Melbourne Cultural Historian, leading to potentially catastrophic life-changing outcomes for those typed – ...

Cuckoos evolve to fool angry birds

Jan 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Australian cuckoo birds have taken a new evolutionary step – mimicking the color of their host young to avoid certain death, according to a study by researchers from The Australian National ...

All viruses 'can be DNA stowaways'

Nov 19, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- 'Fossil viruses' preserved inside the DNA of mammals and insects suggest that all viruses, including relatives of HIV and Ebola, could potentially be ‘stowaways’ transmitted from ...

Scientists Develop Vaccine Against Deadly Viruses

Oct 04, 2006

Scientists from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), in collaboration with counterparts from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), have developed a vaccine to fight two deadly animal viruses ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.