Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Bats and Coronaviruses

Tripart infographic showing a silhouetted pig, three bats, and an unidentified animal but presumably a civet cat in a blue panel on the left. Inside the blue panel are arrows leading from the three bats to the pig above and the civet cat below. Another blue arrow points to a silhouetted human figure centered in the white space between the blue panel on the left and a purple panel on the right containing a single sillouetted man holding a pitchfork and two additional groups of people, some adults in business attire and four children holding hands. Three smaller purple arrows point from the central human figure in the whitespace to the people in the purple panel.
Bats benefit both natural ecosystems and people. Viruses that live in bats can harm people, but transmission of these pathogens from bats to humans can occur only when humans come too close to bats. Recently, misguided attempts to preserve human health have led to persecution of bats. In fact, however, what will keep people healthy is to protect bats and their habitat. This 4-page fact sheet written by Holly K. Ober and Samantha M. Wisely and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation explains how protecting bat roosts can reduce the likelihood of future zoonotic disease pandemics while also increasing the natural pest reduction services bats provide as they consume insects that cause damage to agronomic crops as well as the mosquitoes that transmit diseases like Zika, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Finally, protecting bat roosts keeps bats safely distanced from people, whereas destroying their homes risks the health of both people and bats because it forces bats into closer proximity to people.