Bat Conservation And Health
The deadly Nipah Virus emerged in Malaysia in 1999 as a result of human encroachment into the habitat of the fruit bat, the original carrier of the disease. Since the discovery of Nipah Virus in Malaysia, the disease has spread to several Southeast Asian and South Asian countries. In addition to Nipah Virus, various species of bats carry several other pathogens, such as SARS, which have the capability to threaten human health and emerge into debilitating zoonoses developing further still into a global pandemic. In addition to hosting several dangerous pathogens, bats are hunted in various countries throughout South Asia where their population numbers continue to dwindle, threatening the delicate ecosystems in which they play a crucial part as pollinators.
EcoHealth Alliance's Response
For many years, EcoHealth Alliance scientists have dedicated time and resources to studying diseases in bat populations, and simultaneously protecting these gentle creatures from extinction. Since our 2002 investigation into the origin of SARS, we have continued our work on diseases that are similar in origin, and also expanded our work to Bangladesh and Malaysia where the deadly Nipah Virus has emerged from increased human and animal contact with a species of fruit bat known as the flying fox.
Our work has uncovered strong evidence that the emergence of zoonotic disease from bats is attributable to loss of natural habitat for these frequently vilified creatures. EcoHealth Alliance partners are conducting a study on the diversity and distribution of fruit bats in Bangladesh and are building community awareness campaigns to promote the conservation of bats. We are also building community awareness campaigns in various communities in Thailand to protect the flying fox populations there known to be carrying Nipah Virus.
In the past year, EcoHealth Alliance scientists sampled several species of bats for disease, and have hosted workshops to build capacity for institutions in Malaysia and Bangladesh as they deal with the threat of zoonotic disease from flying foxes and other animals. Our expertise in bats and potential diseases led to our scientists co-editing a manual on bat disease investigation that was distributed globally by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Our continued work on bat conservation and health has also earned EcoHealth Alliance scientists a place on the Board of Advisors for the Lubee Bat Conservancy.
Associate Vice President
DVM, MPH, cert. International Veterinary Medicine
Senior Research Scientist
NIH Fogarty U.S. Global Health Postdoctoral Scientist
MA, Conservation Biology
PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology