Flu: from swine to bird all the way to bat

Bat flu found in Central and South American specimens

WRITTEN BY: Billy Gardner
Bat Flu identified in little yellow shouldered bats
Image Source: Tobusaru via wikimedia commons
Bat Flu identified in little yellow shouldered bats

Researchers reported online in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” that a new influenza virus with a new genetic linking to a fruit-bat species from Central and South America has been found.

From swine flu to bird flu, it only makes sense that there is now bat flu. When asked about the implications on human health, one researcher, Ruben Donis, a chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch in influenza at the United States Center for Disease and Control said, “It was still too early to tell.” The team went on to comment "Early prediction, detection, characterization, and risk assessment of viruses in their animal’s hosts, before they spread into the human population, are critical to protect public health.”

Their current study hoped to test mammals that could migrate long distances which have been found carrying a wide range of pathogenic virus. The CDC tested 316 bats from 21 different species captured at 8 different sites in southern Guatemala.  The results found that flu virus sequences were found in the fruit eating bat commonly known as the little yellow-shouldered bats.

Researchers were unable to grow the virus but have successfully combined the bat flu virus with an H1N1 human flu virus. This means the bat flu virus has the potential for re-assortment, or a potential for a new form of the virus.

The Team explained, "A better understanding of the evolutionary history of the bat influenza NA gene would be facilitated by identifying additional related viruses in bats.”  Without further tests, it is unknown how affected the bat population truly is, but researchers, rest assured, will continue experiments on the new virus bat flu.

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