Latest Issue of Science News


Beware the bats

From Toronto, at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology

Fruit bats in Bangladesh regularly trigger small outbreaks of Nipah virus, a pathogen that often causes measleslike symptoms and sometimes leads to brain inflammation and death, say researchers.

For 6 straight years, Andrew Dobson of Princeton University has recorded Nipah outbreaks in villages in Bangladesh. This year, his team has seen three emergences of the virus, with 5 to 10 cases per outbreak.

The bats feast on fruits that children later collect—even if the fruit is half-eaten—and sell to vendors who blend them into drinks. "Then, you have a nice Nipah-flavored beverage," says Dobson. Because the country's largely Muslim population shuns alcohol, purchasers drink the beverage before it can ferment, which would kill the virus.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.