Well, it isn't necessarily the flu in bats but it is genetic fragments of a flu virus. The precautionary principle says we'd better start vaccinating right now - if it's a slow news week because no singers have died and no white kids have been kidnapped, that is.
This isn't the first time someone has claimed to find flu in bats. Russians did that years ago but Russians make a lot of claims. There was no evidence to it, any more than there was evidence for this:
You care about kids, right? Then please bring attention to this article by getting it on the front page of the Drudge Report and fomenting mass hysteria about bat flu. It's for the children.
CDC researchers in Guatemala studying rabies found the flu fragments as a part of their work. They found genes for a virus, not the virus itself. Bird flu researchers may be concerned that media attention will be drawn away from them during this important flu-coverage season. Richard "Mick" Fulton, a bird disease researcher at Michigan State University, told the Associated Press, "In my mind, if you can't grow the virus, how do you know that the virus is there?"
That's not just philosophy.
Now, I am not saying you will get bat flu, that would be irresponsible. But I am not saying you won't either (wink wink). However, if you are in mainstream science journalism and have run out of miracle vegetable claims, feel free to run with a panic story about bat flu and not credit me. All that has to happen, since these bats don't actually bite people, is for a bat to bite a piece of fruit, and then for a Mad Scientist to take that fruity virus and mix it with some other influenza and...
Oh, too late. The Associated Press beat me to it.
But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the global flu epidemic movie "Contagion.""Contagion"? Well, if it was in a Hollywood movie, it must be science. The media has not been so enchanted with a science metaphor since CNN newsman Miles O’Brien made a career of citing "The Day After Tomorrow" for his comprehensive knowledge of climate modeling.
Citation: Suxiang Tong, Yan Li, Pierre Rivailler, Christina Conrardy, Danilo A. Alvarez Castillo, Li-Mei Chen, Sergio Recuenco, James A. Ellison, Charles T. Davis, Ian A. York, Amy S. Turmelle, David Moran, Shannon Rogers, Mang Shi, Ying Tao, Michael R. Weil, Kevin Tang, Lori A. Rowe, Scott Sammons, Xiyan Xu, Michael Frace, Kim A. Lindblade, Nancy J. Cox, Larry J. Anderson, Charles E. Rupprecht, and Ruben O. Donis, 'A distinct lineage of influenza A virus from bats', PNAS 2012 ; published ahead of print February 27, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1116200109