Why do viruses spread so easily through bats?

Today’s blog post is about the reasons because of which viruses get transmitted to other organisms easily through bats.

Bats are the carriers of many viruses, like rabies, Hendra, Marburg, Ebola viruses, even the coronavirus is believed to be transmitted through them. A total of about 60 zoonotic viruses (the viruses which can be spread through animals, including human beings) are transmitted by them.

They are the only mammals having flight capability, so the viruses could be spread easily when they fly from one region to another. The viruses spread through their saliva, faeces and urine.

Their life span is around 30 years so they bring the viruses near the environment for a long time.

They live in groups so, even one carrier can easily spread viruses to their groups (hundreds and thousands of bats, together) in contact.

The body temperature (about 40⁰C) of bats is comparatively much higher than other mammals thus, creating more immunity in them in the initial stage of infection as most viruses could not withstand that temperature.

Why bats do not get infected by the viruses they carry within themselves?

STING (Stimulator Interferon Genes) pathway is weak in bats (because of a mutation replacing serine amino acid from the sequence) so their immune system produces less reaction against the viruses present in their body and remains unaffected thus, bats have unique capability of coexisting with the viruses.

(STING pathway is responsible for the production of interferons, which activates immune response against viruses).

Bats do spread deadly viruses but, they are also vital for the ecosystem as they occupy a position in the food chain by eating other insects and they also help in pollination.

I hope this love season treating you well. Have a Great Day Ahead.

Would love to learn more from you on this…thank you.

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