Viral Reservoirs

Throughout history, viral outbreaks have ravaged humanity. Bats are said to have
played a leading role in the global spread of such viral diseases.

By Rameez Mahesar | September 2020

Alook into the history of virus-borne diseases, reveals that bats have largely contributed to spreading virus-borne diseases around the world. It is said that the current coronavirus is not the only virus that has been spread by bats. In the not too distant past, other virus-borne diseases were also caused by bats. Bats are said to infect animals first which then begin thinning out the viruses that produce diseases. The coronavirus, which is said to have originated in Wuhan – a large city in China, infected the animals first.

In 1967, the Marburg virus hit Germany and was said to have been caused by bats. In 2014 the Ebola virus in West Africa was also found to have bat roots in trees, buildings and caves. The Nipah virus which caused havoc in India in 2018 and claimed the lives of many people, came from the fruit bat.

A report appearing in ‘The Spectator’ also confirms that bats are one of the major causes behind the spread of these terminal viruses. The bodies of both humans and bats are “sufficiently related” to the flourishing of viruses.

The human race has built immunity against such diseases as tuberculosis, measles, smallpox, and anthrax which are caused by domesticated animals like dogs, cows and pigs. Unlike other mammals like tigers, bats prefer to live in large colonies and these become the source of viruses.

A study entitled ‘Accelerated viral dynamics in bat cell lines, with implications for zoonotic emergence’, confirms that these viruses are dispersed briskly from cell to cell so as to counter the immune system of bats.

This is more perilous for mammals which have not established a strong immune system by the time they are infected.

Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist with Eco Health Alliance in New York City, declared, “We can learn a lot from bats and about their immune system and take some of that information to think over the development of our own therapeutics and about our own health”.

The question in the long run is, how detrimental is the virus? Some quarters say the human death rate is not the only decisive factor in this regard.

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One thought on “Viral Reservoirs

  • September 8, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Seems informative article