Experts Issue Warning Amidst Potential Bat-Borne Virus Spread


by Hamna Bano

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Pointing to previous outbreaks like Ebola and coronavirus, experts have sounded the alarm about the threat of a potential bat-borne pandemic.  

The warning serves as a sharp reminder of the critical need for attention to developing infectious diseases, with growing concerns over the transmission of disease from bats to humans. 

Scientists are and have been racing to understand and identify viruses carried by bats like in July 2021 in Medicilândia in the Amazonian state of Pará, Brazil

“While the exact mechanism of its transmission to humans remains unconfirmed by scientists, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic is genetically linked to a cluster of coronaviruses discovered in horseshoe bats inhabiting Southeast Asia”, said Reuters.


Hume Field, an Australian veterinary epidemiologist who has co-authored more than 300 studies on bats and viruses, said “If you’re a mammalian virus, you couldn’t find a better host, because of the ability of bats to spread you far and wide.”

The transfer of viruses from bats to humans presents a critical concern in public health. This transmission can take place through two main pathways: either through an intermediate host, such as a pig or a chimpanzee, or via direct contact between humans and spillovers i.e. bat urine, feces, blood, or saliva. 

Factors like tree loss, precipitation, temperature, and land cover can influence the likelihood of spillover events. 

“Recognizing these factors and their high-risk locations is crucial for mitigating pandemic risks”, emphasizes scientists.

For years, bat-borne viruses did not represent a serious threat to human populations. The presence of unaltered wildlife habitats served as a natural barrier, preventing the spread of pathogens.

However, Reuters has found that human activities and encroachments have turned these once-protected zones into high-risk regions that span over 9 million square kilometers and 113 countries. Alarmingly, these vulnerable areas now house more than one-fifth of the world's population.