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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2006 Winter;6(4):347-50.

Indirect flight of an African bat to Israel: an example of the potential for zoonotic pathogens to move between continents.

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Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.


The transmission of harmful pathogens during commercial air flights is an increasing health concern. A potential, yet relatively overlooked source of zoonotic infectious diseases involves collisions of birds and bats with aircraft and long distance transport of their carcasses. We report a case of aerial transportation of the remains of an African fruit bat over three continents, following a collision with an aircraft, and demonstrate the relative ease with which zoonotic pathogens, such as rabies virus or other viruses associated with bats, may cross national boundaries and continents even. Improper handling and disposal of animal remains by airport personnel, may lead to exposure of both humans and local fauna to exotic pathogens. This in turn may trigger an epidemic with potentially devastating results.

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