Bat flight and zoonotic viruses

Emerging Infectious Diseases
By: , and 



Bats are sources of high viral diversity and high-profile zoonotic viruses worldwide. Although apparently not pathogenic in their reservoir hosts, some viruses from bats severely affect other mammals, including humans. Examples include severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Nipah and Hendra viruses. Factors underlying high viral diversity in bats are the subject of speculation. We hypothesize that flight, a factor common to all bats but to no other mammals, provides an intensive selective force for coexistence with viral parasites through a daily cycle that elevates metabolism and body temperature analogous to the febrile response in other mammals. On an evolutionary scale, this host–virus interaction might have resulted in the large diversity of zoonotic viruses in bats, possibly through bat viruses adapting to be more tolerant of the fever response and less virulent to their natural hosts.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Bat flight and zoonotic viruses
Series title Emerging Infectious Diseases
DOI 10.3201/eid2005.130539
Volume 20
Issue 5
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Emerging Infectious Diseases
First page 741
Last page 745