Zika Virus RNA Discovered In Free Ranging Bats For The First Time

From IFL Science
June 4, 2021

Scientists from Colorado State University have found the genetic material of the Zika virus in free-ranging African bats. This discovery is the first reported detection of RNA from this virus in bats outside of controlled experiments. As reported in Scientific Reports, the animals seem to be infected naturally, or via the bite of infected mosquitos.

The Zika virus is part of the Flaviviridae family, which also includes the West Nile and dengue viruses, which are all mosquito-borne diseases in humans so it is crucial to understand how they might spread in animals too.

The team analyzed 198 samples from bats gathered in the Zika Forest and surrounding areas in Uganda. Four bats, from three different species, had the Zika virus RNA. Most of the samples predate the major Zika outbreaks, which started in Micronesia and French Polynesia before moving to the Americas.

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