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: Research of plain wren duets could help further understand fundamentals of conversation

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as 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

A molecular compass for bird navigation

Feb 27, 2015

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

100,000 bird samples online

Feb 27, 2015

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in Oslo has a bird collection of international size. It is now available online.

New genetic technologies offer hope for white rhino

Feb 27, 2015

With support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the ...

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.