Habitat destruction has been forcing wildlife into human environments, where zoonotic (animal-transmitted) diseases can flourish. Deforestation, for lumber and land conversion, is bringing humans and domesticated animals into closer contact with exotic species and animals that act as natural hosts of coronavirus-type diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ¾ of new diseases that infect humans originate in animals. There has been a lot of confusion as to the relationship between bats and COVID-19. Increasing reports show that the original strain of COVID-19 originated in bats, then spread to different intermediate hosts found in a wet market in Wuhan City, China because of our exploitation of nature, but it is now a human disease (spread from person to person). This means humans cannot get it from wildlife, including bats. Bats and other wildlife are natural hosts to coronaviruses, but we can only get this type of coronavirus from each other. That being said, bats in the wild are less likely to transmit these diseases to other animals (including humans) as these other species are specialized within distinct and well-established habitats and if they are protected and left undisturbed. This gives us even more reason to want to protect their habitat by supporting organizations that plant native trees and eat less meat and dairy from cattle that graze on recently converted pastureland. Bats must be protected as they are important for pest control, pollination, seed dispersal, global diversity, and ecosystem health.
Watts, Jonathan (2020). ‘Promiscuous treatment of nature’ will lead to more pandemics scientists. TheGuardian.com. (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/07/promiscuous-treatment-of nature-will-lead-to-more-pandemics-scientists)
Rothan, H. A., & Byrareddy, S. N. (2020). The epidemiology and pathogenesis of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Journal of autoimmunity, 102433.
Admin (2020). General News: BCI’s FAQ on Bats and Covid-19. Bat Conservation International. (http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/news-room/gen news/80-latest-news/1227-bci-s-faq-on-bats-and-covid-19).
This blog is managed by the staff and volunteers of Galena Creek Visitor Center. We write about parts of the natural world that we find fascinating and want to teach others about, as well as keeping you updated on the Visitor Center and park. If you want to learn more, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, where we share upcoming events, updates on the ecology of the park, and highlights from each month.