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Disease carrier? Bats have been discredited in the corona pandemic
Scientific studies have shown that bats can transmit coronaviruses without getting sick themselves. But is it also possible that the bat species here can transmit the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus?
It has long been known that bats carry a wide range of viruses. However, it has not yet been scientifically proven that they also contributed to the current corona pandemic - however, this has not been refuted either. Some people in Germany fear that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 could also be transmitted by domestic bats. Is there reason for this fear?
Origin of the virus has not yet been clarified
Various prejudices against bats have been widespread for centuries: the animals are scary bloodsuckers, misfortune messengers and carriers of disease.
As the Lower Saxony State Office for Water, Coastal and Nature Conservation (NLWKN) writes in a message, the current corona pandemic is fueling these horror stories and the outdated image.
"But the bat species found in Germany are not carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 corona virus," explains Dr. Melina Heinrich, expert for bats in the NLWKN. "However, the origin of the virus remains unknown for the time being."
According to the experts, bats are among the most endangered mammals in Germany. Numerous bat species are under serious threat, and not least because of this, all species of this group of animals in Europe are under strict species protection.
“Fighting bats out of fear of the corona virus has no basis. The Federal Nature Conservation Act even provides for high penalties for this, ”explains Heinrich.
"Not only killing but also disturbing bats and damaging or destroying their roosts is a crime."
Mammals are hosts of various pathogens
As explained in the NLWKN Communication, mammals are hosts of various bacteria and viruses. This applies to humans as well as bats.
These include various types of corona viruses such as the new SARS-CoV-2. This is a human pathogen that is genetically closely related to viruses from the animal kingdom.
However, according to the experts, a direct transmission of the coronavirus from bats to humans is highly unlikely.
Until a corona virus circulating in a bat population becomes contagious to humans, several transitions from one animal species to the next are necessary, in which the virus itself has to adapt to the new host species.
For this reason, host changes are extremely rare and only under very special conditions. These include, for example, wildlife markets, where animal species from different habitats meet in the smallest of spaces.
There is no such close contact between intermediate host and human being, which is crucial for virus transmission, in Germany.
Native bat species are not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
According to the NLWKN, the bat species found in Germany are not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The actual origin of SARS-CoV-2 is still undoubtedly unclear. Researchers found viruses with a similar genetic makeup in Asian bats from the group of horseshoe bats and in pangolins.
Genetic studies suggest that the change of the virus from the original host to an intermediate host and finally to humans was several decades ago. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.