Why Ignoring bats might aid in preventing pandemics in the future

Scientists are looking more closely at methods of reducing the probability of future worldwide pandemics and the waves of fatalities they bring in the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020. A group of American academics may have discovered a solution that seems unorthodox and straightforward, but it might yet work: don’t bother the bats.

Can bats end global hunger? Even while it is a bit of an oversimplification, these tiny animals may nevertheless contribute to lowering the danger of pandemics like the one that began in 2020 and resulted in over seven million deaths globally. But only if you leave them alone, claim researchers in the field. But it should be highlighted that this is not a research; rather, it is an analysis conducted by a group of specialists from Cornell University and the Wildlife Conservation Society in the United States and published in the The Lancet Planetary Health magazine.

Keep bats to yourself!

According to this research, in order to reduce the likelihood of future worldwide pandemics, it is crucial to cease upsetting bats and to avoid disrupting them by changing or harming their environment. This might seem like an odd idea, but it’s actually very serious, if only because bats are reservoirs for many viruses that can be spread to other species, including humans, like the rabies virus, Ebola, the Marburg virus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the Nipah virus, to name a few.

“We can no longer disregard our interdependence with the animals and ecosystems around us in a globalized world with eight billion people. The next pandemic of zoonotic origin may begin with bats, according to Dr. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at WCS, who is cited in a press release. “We must change humanity’s relationship with nature if we want to prevent it,” she adds.

limiting zoonotic disease transmission

For all of these reasons, scientists are not blaming bats for the genesis of specific pandemics; rather, they are blaming mankind, which must take “the most basic, common-sense upstream steps” in order to lower the probability of a new pandemic. And above all else, that entails giving bats space. The report recommends, more specifically, ceasing the use, trading, and eating of bats as well as ceasing all forms of bat hunting and preserving their natural environment. The goal is to halt any behaviors that might result in their distribution and raise the danger of zoonoses, which are illnesses or infections that can pass from animals to people.

“We can indisputably lower the chances of another pandemic if we can actually stop hunting, eating, and trading bats, stay out of their caves, keep livestock away from areas where bats are concentrated, and if we can stop deforesting, degrading (or even start restoring) their natural habitats,” claims Steven A. Osofsky, a Cornell professor of wildlife health and health policy.

As the world has seen, bats are a priority because they are thought to be viral reservoirs, but the researchers also point out that this fact holds true for many other wild species. Over the next days and weeks, researchers will continue to look at this.



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