Bats and Public Health: An Emerging Concern

BatsSince researchers identified Horseshoe Bats as a likely reservoir for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, research on the connection between bats and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) has increased. Bats have been known reservoirs for the rabies virus since the early 1900s when vampire bats caused a pandemic of rabies in South American cattle. The enormous health and economic costs of disease outbreaks such as SARS make identifying the sources of disease and developing policies to prevent outbreaks imperative. Beginning in April 2012, another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) began affecting humans in Saudi Arabia. Like SARS, bats are again implicated as possible reservoirs for this new disease.

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