April 15, 2020

Bats and viruses

For centuries bats have had a bad reputation amongst the general public. They are portrayed negatively in folklore as well as real life. I wrote about this in 2008, "Batty friends in need of our protection".

Bats are also said to be carriers of viruses that can be passed to humans. See my website for more about bats and viruses. In 1998 bats were linked to the Nipah virus in Malaysia. Then in 2002 bats were linked to the SARS outbreak. The latest one is the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus Covid 19 hit the world at the start of 2020. It started in Wuhan in China in Dec 2019. The virus was first reported in a live animal market. It was suggested that bats from a nearby cave might have been the cause, then this idea was squashed. Then in mid April a report suggested that "Stray dogs eating bat meat may have started pandemic". The Sky news report on 15 April wrote that a professor in "University of Ottawa's biology department, has suggested that stray dogs are the most likely intermediate host for the transmission of Sars-CoV-2 into humans. According to the study, the ancestor of the new coronavirus and its nearest relative - a bat coronavirus - infected the intestines of dogs. They then evolved before moving to humans." But scientists elsewhere are unconvinced.

Other reports again suggest the bats from Wuhan area are to blame. "Wuhan lab ‘experimented on bats from cave where coronavirus may have originated’ ", Metro 12 April and similar articles appeared in other media. Bats were caught in caves in Yunnan, about 1000 miles from Wuhan.
The Daily Mail 12 April suggests the "U.S. government gave $3.7million grant to Wuhan lab at center of coronavirus leak scrutiny that was performing experiments on bats from the caves where the disease is believed to have originated".

A 54 min documentary video on youtube that blames the Chinese Communist Party for the virus, from Epoch Times.

However it is still unclear whether scientists are to blame, or if the virus made the jump directly to humans, possibly by bats for sale in the market.

It is still very early days to know anything definite!


See more on Bat Conservation International .


An interesting article on CNN "The virus hunters who search bat caves to predict the next pandemic" on 27 April 2020. It describes how scientists capture bats each evening outside caves in China's Yunnan province. Blood is taken from the bats, oral and faecal swabs are taken and droppings collected. The scientists are testing for new pathogens. The organisation Predict, operates in 31 countries and are focusing on China, Myanmar and Kenya.

No comments: