Bats as Hosts of Important Unicellular Endoparasites

Some bacteria and protozoan species are important pathogens causing high mortality rates not only in humans, but also in other mammal species including bats. Infectious agents, such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi have been reported in the order Chiroptera, but a thorough analysis of zoonotic unicellular pathogens is needed. To address this topic, we conducted an exhaustive search of literature reports on pathogenic bacterial and protozoan infections in bats, in order to summarize the current state of knowledge on these pathogens. From this search, we obtained information on seven protozoan and 12 bacterial species present in 187 bat species, which were retrieved from 169 articles. Despite all the records, bats are only considered reservoirs for two protozoan species. Thus, more studies are needed to consider bats as reservoirs for bacteria. At North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) symposia, 17 studies have been presented and discussed, but only two focused on pathogens responsible for the principal causes of death in human populations. More worldwide studies are needed to assess the actual role of bats in public health problems and to help develop conservation measures for bat populations that need to be protected.

Author(s):Pablo Colunga-Salas, Giovani Hernádez-Canchola, Estefania Grostieta, Ingeborg Becker
Organization(s):Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Louisiana State University
Source: 50 Years of Bat Research. Fascinating Life Sciences (Springer)
Year: 2021

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