Halloween bats can be a little scary knowing they are not going to spread most viruses. A research project finds that influenza viruses carried by bats pose a low risk to humans.
"Bats are natural reservoirs of some of the most deadly zoonotic viruses, including rabies virus, Ebola virus, Henipaviruses and SARS coronavirus," said Wenjun Ma, one of the lead investigators and an assistant professor of virology at Kansas State University. "Recently, sequences have been discovered in bats that resemble influenza viruses that are uncultivable. This made us curious as to whether those viruses exist and what impact that might have on humans."
"The goals of our study were to characterize the bat influenza virus using noninfectious approaches by synthesizing the complete viral genome, then generate a replicative virus and use it as a model to better understand bat influenza viruses," Ma said.
The team used a variety of techniques, including synthetic technology, reverse genetics, next-generation sequencing and mini-genome polymerase activity assays.
"While our data suggest that the bat influenza viruses are authentic viruses and provide new insights into the evolution and basic biology of influenza viruses, the results also indicate that they pose little, if any, pandemic threat to humans," Ma said.
Ma collaborated on this project with David Wentworth from the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, to carry out the research.
Article: "Characterization of Uncultivable Bat Influenza Virus Using a Replicative Synthetic Virus," PLOS Pathogens.
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