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Fruit bats get swabbed to look for diseases that could jump to humans

Researchers are testing fruit bats in the Republic of the Congo for viruses such as Ebola to learn more about the risks of diseases spreading to humans


25 January 2023

A fruit bat is swabbed to test for viruses

A fruit bat is swabbed to test for viruses


Fruit bats in the Republic of the Congo are being tested for zoonotic diseases, including Ebola, in an effort by conservationists and medical researchers to better understand the risk posed by the live trade of fruit bats and the consumption of bat meat in the country.

Blood samples and nose and throat swabs were collected from around 100 fruit bats near the Congolese capital Brazzaville this month by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research.

The team sourced the bats from hunters who usually sell their catches in bushmeat markets around the city. None of the bats have so far tested positive for Ebola viruses, although fruit bats are known to harbour them and to have antibodies to the disease.

Multiple outbreaks of Ebola have been confirmed across Africa over the past 20 years, with Uganda, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo among the countries worst affected.

Ebola is a zoonotic disease, meaning it jumps from animal to human hosts. The train of transmission still isn’t clear, but scientists suspect that initial outbreaks occur after a person comes into contact with an infected animal, such as a monkey or fruit bat.

Researchers hope the fruit bat testing programme will help them to pinpoint how Ebola is spreading, including whether the trade of bushmeat is involved. Since 2012, WCS has tested more than 1200 fruit bats across the Republic of the Congo for pathogens with zoonotic potential.

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Source link Recently, an important new study was conducted to understand how potential diseases could spread from the animal kingdom to the human population. Conducted in the Philippines, researchers took samples from fruit bat populations to assess the animals for potential transmissible diseases.

This research was implemented for two major reasons. The first has to do with human safety. With the emergence of pandemics and the relatively recent outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS, researchers are striving to understand the animal origins of such illnesses to try and prevent something similar from occurring in the future. The second reason is related to improving the public health and welfare of fruit bats. This is something that has been increasingly looked at over the years in order to properly understand and manage the risks associated with different animal populations.

In this study, swab samples were taken from the mouths and noses of 455 fruit bats from three different species in the Philippines. The samples were then analyzed and assessed for evidence of transmissible viruses and bacteria. The results revealed that nearly 40% of the animals had some type of microorganism that could potentially infect human hosts. Additionally, certain viruses that are of particular concern, such as coronaviruses, were detected.

This research is yet another reminder of the importance of understanding potential animal carriers and vectors of diseases that could potentially infect humans. It also provides a great opportunity for further research into how these microorganisms are spread from animals to humans, and how we can better manage related risks.

Overall, this study shows the value of swab sampling animal populations to look for potential diseases. It also serves to emphasize the need for more research into potential virus and bacteria transmission from animals to humans, so we can better understand and address the risks of potential pandemics in the future.

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