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West-African straw-coloured fruit bats as a reservoir for viral zoonoses

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Species within the order chiroptera (bats) are increasingly being recognised as a reservoir for viral zoonoses. Bats harbour viruses that cause rabies, haemorrhagic fevers, as well as notorious agents such as Hendra and Nipah viruses. They also appear to be the origin of deadly coronaviruses including SARS -CoV and NCoV. The African straw-coloured fruit bat is widely-distributed throughout the continent (and a number of islands) where it forms dense roosts, often in urban areas. The species is also eaten as bushmeat, making it an unnerving reservoir of viral zoonoses. Studies into the species, including metagenomic sequencing surveys as well as targeted PCR and isolation strategies, revealed it to have a high number of diverse viruses, some of which are zoonotic candidates. Seroepidemiological investigations into the same populations revealed endemic infection of the species that fluctuated with seasonal life events.

This talk is part of the Ecology Lunchtime Series series.

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