Why bats hold remarkable clues
Bats are intriguing because they have unique abilities, particularly when it comes to how they manage their own health.
Many species of bats are known or believed to carry viruses and spread them to humans and animals. Yet, they have the ability to carry a virus and spread it but not get sick from it.
Scientists don’t know what protects bats from getting sick, and that’s part of the question CSU researchers are trying to answer.
Bats also play a significantly important – and positive – role in our environment and are essential to our ecosystems.
Like bees, bats are major pollinators. They also help keep insect populations in check, including reducing the number of insects that spread diseases to humans, such as mosquitoes. Bats are often looked to for natural ways to control insects in areas where insecticides are not or cannot be used; they eat their body weight in insects every night.
Research that can help us understand bats’ immune systems will potentially help people – and bats. Millions of bats have died from a fungal infection called white nose syndrome.
Understanding how bats manage infections can help us unlock clues to save them and protect their critical place in our ecosystems and agriculture.