Leyla Raiani
Feb 28, 2012

Flu virus discovered in bats

Scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have discovered evidence of a new influenza type A virus in Guatemalan fruit bats. While they don't believe the virus poses a threat to humans in its current form, they say more research should be done, because bats could act as a gene-swapping reservoir where the virus acquires genetic material that could make it a threat to human health in the future. The lead author of the study, Dr. Suxiang Tong, said this is the first time that a flu virus has been identified in bats, but in its current form the virus is not a human health issue. According to co-author Dr. Ruben Donis, initial laboratory testing suggests the new virus would need to undergo significant changes to become capable of infecting and spreading easily among humans. So far, the bat flu virus has only been found in little yellow-shouldered bats. These fruit bats are quite common in Central and South America.