The October 26, 2016 issue of ScienceDaily published an especially misleading story that poses a direct threat to both bats and public health. In this story, a fragment of an influenza A-like virus was discovered in a Latin American fruit-eating bat. The initial conclusion was that it posed “little, if any, pandemic threat to humans.
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BAT FLASH! Countering Irresponsible Speculation that
Threatens both Bats and Public Health | Merlin Tuttle
October 30, 2016
What's going on?
The October 26, 2016 issue of ScienceDaily published an especially misleading story that poses a direct threat
to both bats and public health. In this story, a fragment of an influenza A-like virus was discovered in a Latin
American fruit-eating bat. The initial conclusion was that it posed “little, if any, pandemic threat to humans.”
A team of lab scientists then used this new influenza-like material to bio-engineer a new influenza virus. To do
this, they analyzed cells from over 30 different viral species for their capacity to become hosts. Then the cell
that was most susceptible to the engineered virus was tested and found capable of infecting a variety of cells,
including those of humans.
The resulting publication ends with this self-serving justification. “Bats are natural hosts for several highly
pathogenic viruses. In the past, Ebola and rabies virus were repeatedly transmitted from bats to humans and
caused deadly diseases. The new observation that human cells can be infected with bat influenza A-like
viruses is a hint that these viruses could also potentially be transmitted to humans. Although there is no
evidence yet for such transmissions, the new findings are a wake-up call for more research.”
A little yellow-shouldered bat (Sturnira lilium), an
invaluable seed disperser, now prematurely
speculated to be dangerous.
The claim that Ebola has been repeatedly transmitted from bats to humans is false, completely lacking in
scientific documentation, and the authors fail to admit that bat-transmitted rabies is one of our planet’s rarest
human disease threats. It’s time to focus on real threats, like cancer and obesity.
What to do.
Please contact their editorial department and let them know that you strongly disapprove of their story which
needlessly threatens bats and diverts public health dollars from far greater threats. Even if you simply state
your strong dislike of the misleading story, with no further explanation, you can have major impact. Editors,
are hired and fired based on readership trends. They don’t dare offend large numbers of readers.
What are friends for?
Reinforcement. So use them. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Tell all your pals. The bigger our voice, the bigger
Until next time, Bat Fan…. Thanks for being there!
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