On Friday, CNN aired a super interesting special on bats. Anderson Cooper was the host. The special addressed the role that bats may have played in COVID-19 getting to humans, their role as pollinators and predators of insects (e.g. mosquitoes), and their unique ability to carry viruses without being affected much by them.
The main takeaways I had from it were that bats are super important to the vitality of planet earth and also that they may give us clues into how we can better fight viruses that we come in contact with. Also, while it does look like bats are the likely source of COVID-19, that doesn’t mean it’s their fault. In truth, the real issue is these wet markets (many of which are in China), are breeding grounds for novel viruses to come into contact with humans due to the fact that so many animals come together in one place that naturally wouldn’t be together. It was also sad to learn that bats in North America are being decimated by a fungus that causes “white nose syndrome.” This fungus appears to be caused by humans. So, it’s not like we’ve been all that helpful to bats.
Anyways, I wanted to put a plug in for the program and for bats as a whole. They are fascinating and important creatures. Studying them could pay huge dividends in helping us survive!
(Photo Credit: Nature.org)