Bats Go Viral
Are bats special? What is it about them that makes them congenial hosts to some of the most deadly viruses?
Originally shared by Tommy Leung
The Dark Knight Goes Viral
For some reason, many of the scariest virus on this planet – the Ebola virus, rabies, Marburg virus, and SARS coronavirus – seem to find a refuge in bats, of all things. Somehow, these little mammals seem to act as a flying reservoir for all kinds of nasties, but why?
Bats are an extremely diverse order of mammal; there are over 1200 known living species and they account for 20% of all known mammals. So is it simply because there are more bats around, then naturally there would be more viruses found in them?
Well, apart from their sheer diversity and being the only mammal capable of powered flight, there’s a bit more to bat than that – it seems that bats also have a high prevalent of genes that encode for proteins which detect and repair DNA – and these genes happen to be the target for many viruses.
So with such an active DNA surveillance system in place, is that why bats are able to harbour such deadly viruses without being harmed by them? Or is that simply a coincidence, that because bats are known to be a reservoir for deadly viruses, so scientists are more likely look for such viruses in bats instead of other mammals, and thus “bats are special virus reservoirs” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Follow the link below to read the article by nadia drake to find out more.