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Viruses. 2019 Mar 10;11(3). pii: E240. doi: 10.3390/v11030240.

Bat Research Networks and Viral Surveillance: Gaps and Opportunities in Western Asia.

Author information

1
EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY 10001, USA. phelps@ecohealthalliance.org.
2
EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY 10001, USA. hamel@ecohealthalliance.org.
3
Biosafety and Biosecurity Center, Royal Scientific Society, 11941 Amman, Jordan. Nesreen.Alhmoud@rss.jo.
4
Department of Wildlife & Ecology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore 54000, Pakistan. shahzad.ali@uvas.edu.pk.
5
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Boğaziçi University, 34342 Istanbul, Turkey. rasit.bilgin@boun.edu.tr.
6
National Center for Disease Control & Public Health, 0198 Tbilisi, Georgia. k.sidamonidze@ncdc.ge.
7
National Center for Disease Control & Public Health, 0198 Tbilisi, Georgia. lelincdc@gmail.com.
8
EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY 10001, USA. karesh@ecohealthalliance.org.
9
EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY 10001, USA. olival@ecohealthalliance.org.

Abstract

Bat research networks and viral surveillance are assumed to be at odds due to seemingly conflicting research priorities. Yet human threats that contribute to declines in bat populations globally also lead to increased transmission and spread of bat-associated viruses, which may pose a threat to global health and food security. In this review, we discuss the importance of and opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations between bat research networks and infectious disease experts to tackle shared threats that jeopardize bat conservation as well as human and animal health. Moreover, we assess research effort on bats and bat-associated viruses globally, and demonstrate that Western Asia has limited published research and represents a gap for coordinated bat research. The lack of bat research in Western Asia severely limits our capacity to identify and mitigate region-specific threats to bat populations and detect interactions between bats and incidental hosts that promote virus spillover. We detail a regional initiative to establish the first bat research network in Western Asia (i.e., the Western Asia Bat Research Network, WAB-Net), with the aim of integrating ecological research on bats with virus surveillance to find "win-win" solutions that promote bat conservation and safeguard public and animal health across the region.

KEYWORDS:

Chiroptera; Middle East; One Health; conservation; coronaviruses; zoonoses

PMID:
30857374
PMCID:
PMC6466127
DOI:
10.3390/v11030240
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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