Why Bats Are Such Good Hosts for Deadly Diseases

by Rachel Baker on October 15, 2014

As we listen to all the news about a second nurse testing positive for Ebola, it seems like also a good time to look at how maybe this particular epidemic/pandemic of Ebola started. Its appears that scientists are pretty sure the Ebola outbreak was started by a chance encounter by a toddler and migrating fruit bats back in December of 2013 (see article for link).

So, here’s a look at why bats are disease reservoirs and how they harbor and might pass on viruses.

Why Bats Are Such Good Hosts for Ebola and Other Deadly Diseases.

Bats and other species that chronically harbor viruses, such as rats or mice, are known as disease reservoirs. Most of the time, these reservoirs stay intact, with infected animals rarely showing symptoms of disease. But sometimes they leak, letting a virus infect new, much more vulnerable species. This is almost certainly what happened with the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which began with a trickle in December and has since infected at least 8,900 people and killed more than 4,400. Scientists suspect bats are to blame for this epidemic, which has overwhelmed Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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