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Des Pond
17 Jun 20 01:52
Date Joined: 19 Aug 06
| Topic/replies: 22,210 | Blogger: Des Pond's blog
It has been widely known for a long time that bats are the most likely vectors of many deadly viruses. Zoonotic diseases are ones which originate in animals and cross over into human beings. Zoonosis has been the means of travel of many of the most feared diseases known to science, including Ebola, hendra, SARS, anthrax, Lassa fever, Marburg virus, smallpox, bubonic plague, haemmhorragic fever, West nile fever, rabies, hantavirus and , probably, Coronavirus.
Most of these have originated in bats. Apparently, bats have evolved with a number of evolutionary adaptations that together, make them the only mammal capable of flight. And perhaps more crucially, have endowed them with highly efficient immune systems (bats and other mammals have reserves of a protein called interferon alpha which "tells" the immune system to shut out the virus trying to attack it). It is because of this immunity that bats can carry extremely virulent pathogens which often do no harm to the bats, but can prove deadly to other creatures (including humans) that they come in contact with.
The theory, as I understand it from reading various papers on it, is that the bats' highly efficient immune systems force viruses to adapt far more quickly than they do in other hosts, resulting in pathogens that, although they don't kill the bat, evolve into something far deadlier to other animals which, like humans, do not have the bats' immune system. Bats are also long-lived, giving viruses the opportunity to adapt and evolve without killing their host.
So, as far as I can make out, while there are trillions and trillions of these small creatures on earth, we can never be certain that there won't be more outbreaks of these deadly diseases that can infect humans, but against which we have little or no resistance.

Most of the above is distilled from David Quammen's book - Spillover: Animal Infections and the next human Pandemic
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Report saddo June 17, 2020 8:39 AM BST
I'm not bothered if I never see another bat. The communist Chinese managed to kill almost every sparrow in the country to save crops, but they let these disease carriers flourish and even eat the feckers.

The Four Pests Campaign

'At dawn one day last week, the slaughter of the sparrows in Peking began, continuing a campaign that has been going on in the countryside for months. The objection to the sparrows is that, like the rest of China's inhabitants, they are hungry. They are accused of pecking away at supplies in warehouses and in paddyfields at an officially estimated rate of four pounds of grain per sparrow per year. And so divisions of soldiers deployed through Peking streets, their footfalls muffled by rubber-soled sneakers. Students and civil servants in high-collared tunics, and schoolchildren carrying pots and pans, ladles and spoons, quietly took up their stations. The total force, according to Radio Peking, numbered 3,000,000.[6]

Some sparrows found refuge in the extraterritorial premises of various diplomatic missions in China. The personnel of the Polish embassy in Beijing denied the Chinese request of entering the premises of the embassy to scare away the sparrows who were hiding there and as a result the embassy was surrounded by people with drums. After two days of constant drumming, the Poles had to use shovels to clear the embassy of dead sparrows.'
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