Emerging Viruses: Coming in on a Wrinkled Wing and a Prayer

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Abstract

The role that bats have played in the emergence of several new infectious diseases has been under review. Bats have been identified as the reservoir hosts of newly emergent viruses such as Nipah virus, Hendra virus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome-like coronaviruses. This article expands on recent findings about bats and viruses and their relevance to human infections. It briefly reviews the history of chiropteran viruses and discusses their emergence in the context of geography, phylogeny, and ecology. The public health and trade impacts of several outbreaks are also discussed. Finally, we attempt to predict where, when, and why we may see the emergence of new chiropteran viruses.

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