Bats more likely than rodents to carry disease, new study says

Feb 06, 2013

Rodents hugely outnumber bats, but bats are more likely than rodents to carry viruses that can be transmitted between animals and humans, according to new research by Colorado State University disease ecologists.

"There's been a lot of speculation that bats might be special in some way as far as their potential to host ," said Angela Luis, a postdoctoral fellow who conducted the research with Colleen Webb, a biology professor at Colorado State. Zoonotic are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. "We found that although there are twice as many as there are , bats hosted more zoonotic viruses per species than rodents."

Luis and Webb scoured existing studies to produce their findings, which appear this week in the online edition of the – Biological Sciences. The research was funded by Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics, or RAPIDD, through the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Bats carry SARS, Ebola, Nipah and Hendra viruses – all of which can be deadly to humans. The researchers found that bats were more likely to share viruses such as these between species and that viruses may pass more easily between different bat species that live in the same geographic range than between rodent species.

While humans should keep their distance from bats, the ecosystem benefits from healthy that eat insects and pollinate fruits, Luis said. Bats eat enough insects to account for as much as $3 billion worth of pesticide control annually in the United States.

"Even though this work shows that are special as far as hosting these nasty diseases, they're really important ecologically," Luis said. "We want to promote limiting bat and human contact, which will be beneficial for both bat conservation and human health."

Explore further: In battle of the sexes, a single night with a New York male is enough to kill

More information: www.news.colostate.edu/content/documents/Complete_paper.pdf

Related Stories

New bat virus could hold key to Hendra virus

Aug 02, 2012

Australian scientists have discovered a new virus in bats that could help shed light on how Hendra and Nipah viruses cause disease and death in animals and humans. The new virus - named 'Cedar' after the Queensland ...

Key to controlling deadly viruses in bat community

Feb 15, 2011

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.

Recommended for you

Do you have the time? Flies sure do

6 hours ago

Flies might be smarter than you think. According to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 28, fruit flies know what time of day it is. What's more, the insects can learn to con ...

Barking characterizes dogs as voice characterizes people

9 hours ago

An international group of researchers has conducted a study on canine behavior showing that gender, age, context and individual recognition can be identified with a high percentage of success through statistical ...

Bird beaks feeling the heat of climate change, say scientists

11 hours ago

While the human population grapples with ways to counter the effects of climate change, Deakin University research has discovered that birds might have been working on their own solution for the past 145 years – grow bigger ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.