Bats Connected to Viruses
As most of us know, bats contain and transport many different viruses and sicknesses. Some of them are harmful, and some not harmful to humans. Because of this previous scientific finding, some may be wondering, are bats intensifying the novel Coronavirus. SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Marburg are just some examples of previous viruses caused by animals.
As the SARS outbreak was occurring in 2003, scientists were looking to find which animal acted as a natural host for the virus. After about a year of research, they concluded that bats are the one animal best equipped to carry viruses.
How Bats Survive Viruses like the Novel Coronavirus
So, if bats are the animal carrying and transporting these viruses, why aren’t they dying from them? Scientists have tried researching the immune systems of bats, although it is still a nascent field. No one has completely figured out why, but there are some reasons and theories. Perhaps in the future, with more study research, scientists could find a way to use the immune systems of bats to help create a way to fight off diseases in humans, such as COVID-19.
However, most research suggests that bats have been living with these diseases for thousands of years. Considering there are billions of bats around the world there is evidence that over time bats have become accustomed to and adapted to living with these types of viruses. Bats just coevolved with these viruses that don’t cause any harm to them.
Transfering to Humans Is Where the Danger Lies
It’s not the virus in the bat that is dangerous; it’s when the virus finds its way and makes contact with a human. Bats have developed the ability to live with these viruses and while bats carry the virus, it tends to intensify and attempt to overtake the immune system fighting it off. The virus is usually worse when attracted to a human than when in a bat.
Scientists do find it strange that a virus such as COVID-19 is mainly a respiratory disease. When bats fly, their body temperature rises to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and their heartbeat is around 1,000 beats per minute. So, if this disease were affecting their breathing, you would think they would start dropping at a rapid pace due to the extreme things their bodies go through during flight.
A large number of people ask us how and why bats transmit diseases so rapidly. Bats are a species that rely on the company of other bats. When bats aren’t hibernating, they are either sleeping or eating for the most part. And when they are sleeping, they like to roost and hang in large colonies. They get very close and rub on each other. So, if just one bat had a disease, most likely by the end of one day the rest of the bats in that colony will also be carrying the same disease. While they are roosting, they urinate and release feces on each other due to how close they are. The close proximity causes the rapid spreading of viruses.
How Do Diseases Spread from Bats to Humans?
Bats like to establish homes in people’s houses, mainly in the attics. There is always a possibility that a bat can make its way into a home. In most cases, bats do not deliberately attack humans. They are mostly scared of and try to stay away from them. But there are the very rare cases where a human can unintentionally provoke a bat into attacking them. A human confrontation with a bat can result in a bite or a scratch. Those bites or scratches are what lead to the disease spreading. If a human goes into an attic where bats are living, and the fumes from all of the feces and urine they leave behind become airborne, someone could breathe that in and could be infected that way.
So are bats intensifying the coronavirus? There still isn’t enough research to prove if they are or not. With the way a bat’s immune system works and the way they can intensify the actual virus while it is attached to them, it is very possible. But they can be held accountable for spreading it, and with the number of bats in the billions, it is no surprise that diseases in bats spread more rapidly than others.