Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden): scientists pay tribute to

the Bat blame the outbreak of Ebola, SARS, middle East respiratory syndrome, and now the new coronavirus. This flying mammal is often a peddler for us a deadly virus, and it is even called “the main enemy of mankind”. But the real culprit — not the bats.

Oh no, not again!

So I thought Johan stopped here late Monday night (Johan Eklöf) when I read about the new coronavirus in China. Since he always watched the development of this outbreak of viruses before, he knew that very soon the press will start to appear article.

“it only took a couple of days. It happens every time.”

Johan stopped here late Monday night — doctor of Zoology and the author of several books about bats. Bat even tattooed on his left arm, which is not uncommon in an environment like professionals.

Recently, genetic analyses showed that the new coronavirus was probably transmitted to people from bats. Initially, suspicion fell on the serpent, but now scientists have discovered another villain. And accused it is already far not the first time.

Ebola, SARS, middle East respiratory syndrome and Nipah virus — they all presumably come from bats. That’s how the title of an article by The British The Sun, when scientists realized that to this list can now be added and the new coronavirus: the “Winged executioner. That’s why bats are the main enemy of man and responsible for millions of deaths from the worst diseases in history.”

On the most popular page of the Swedish bat fans on Facebook someone wrote: “all right, now all bats will definitely harass”.

But the disappearance of bats would not the salvation of humanity — rather the contrary.

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There are several reasons why bats carry so many deadly viruses. First, from an evolutionary point of view, this animal is very ancient. Probably bats existed in the era of the dinosaurs, which ended 65 million years ago.

During its long history, bat has simply collected a large number of viruses.

you May remember from biology lessons that we humans carry different viruses, which do not be sick — for example, one type of herpes virus. Viruses are very, very many, and they are in large numbers live in humans, animals, plants, and other organisms.

But few so well get along with them, like bats.

the Most deadly diseases that are transmitted from bats to humans in our time, the mice do not get sick.

That’s why from the point of view of the virus, these animals make perfect partners. Åke lundkvist (Åke Lundkvist), Professor of Virology, Uppsala University, says that perhaps the new coronavirus, bats have been carrying for many years.

viruses, like the SARS virus, middle East respiratory syndrome, Nipah and Ebola are changing rapidly and easily adapt to new conditions, passing from one animal species to another.

“But they can thousands of years or even millions of years to live in their natural hosts, before moving on to another organism, which often occurs under the influence of human activities,” says Åke Lundqvist.

There is another reason why bats are so well spread infection.

As the bats — the only flying mammals, they spread quickly over wide areas. In addition, they often live near people.

In some parts of Africa, meat, bats eat in the form of so-called “sushmita” (bushmeat, as a rule, dried meat of wild animals of Africa and America, ed. transl.). This infection is easily transferred from animals to humans.

In countries like China and Vietnam, bats also eat. According to one theory, the SARS epidemic in 2003 started with a food market in China, where bats infected fiverr, and from them the virus crossed over to humans.

Since we in Sweden do not so often come into contact with bats, the risk of infection are much lower. But at the same time, studies of viruses in Swedish bats do not pay enough attention, says åke Lundqvist.

with colleagues They are launching a project to search for viral sequences from bats of Sweden with the help of modern genetic technology.

it is possible that they will make a number of unpleasant discoveries. 12 years ago was discovered signs that the Swedish bats also carry the most terrible disease in the world.

blood-sucking vampires, evil spirits, enchanted animals. To bats since the ancient times were treated as evil creatures. Spread myths if they are attracted to white sheets, especially if they get tangled up in the hair and if they are strongly associated with the devil.

Not to mention disgust. A few weeks ago, a Chinese blogger Wang Manyun posted a video where she eats the soup from a bat, but she had quickly to clean it up, she threatened to death.

Doctor of Zoology with a tattoo of a bat, Johan stopped here late Monday night and other scientists believe that we established the image of a bat is based on misunderstanding and prejudice. Actually we have to thank these animals.

“One bat can eat up to 3000 insects a night. But it’s helpful.”

In Sweden only live insectivorous bats, which perform an important function by eating small parasites that attack our crops. Studies show that bats around the world save agriculture several billion crowns per year, protecting the plants from pests.

Instead of fearing bats we should have something to learn from them, says Johan stopped here late Monday night.

“it Seems that bats are not affected by cancer, and they have good resistance to different viruses and diseases.”

Twelve years ago found that among the Swedish mice have individuals with antibodies to one of the varieties of rabies. With high probability, this suggests that this disease is prevalent among animals in Sweden, and people can get infected.

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Louise Treiberg Berndtsson (Louise Treiberg Berndtsson), Deputy chief physician of the State veterinary Institute, participated in the study. According to her, there is no need for concern.

“I think we should be happy if you live in the house of bats. The only thing: if you find on earth is a bat, which, apparently, didn’t feel well, do not touch it with your hands, use gloves”.

Earlier, and she thought of bats is pretty scary.

“But when I worked with them, my attitude changed. This is a very cute little animals, which occupy an important place in the ecosystem”.

Experts on bats have long warned that because of the people these animals live harder. A third of all species of bats that live in Sweden are under threat of extinction, according to the latest version of the red book. This is also the case in many places of the world.

One of the reasons is the lighting of the façades, which lately is becoming more popular. It scares the animals. The construction of the highway and the drainage of wetlands also complicate their lives.

the Author of the aforementioned article in The Sun asks a rhetorical question: “Considering what a monstrous number of lives the bats carry around the world, why should we help them?”

But it is not.

the Real villain behind the spread of mers and other deadly diseases is always the same — and it is ourselves.

If people didn’t keep animals in a limited space like in the food markets of Wuhan, not to eat their half-baked, as in some parts of Africa, did not catch them in the medical purposes, as in Bolivia, we would avoid many viruses.

“it is no Coincidence that almost all the flu strains come from East Asia. The virus begins to spread, moving from animals to humans under special circumstances,” says Louise Treiberg Berndtsson.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the last outbreak of coronavirus and the role it played bat.

If the animals cause harm to us humans, often do not blame them, and we do. Bears, tigers and alligators are killed every year by certain amount of people, but most often because people too much jostle them, come too close and behave carelessly.

However, in the future bats will probably finally be left alone. Twenty years ago, when Johan stopped here late Monday night was just beginning a career expert on bats, he often called and asked how to get rid of these animals in the house or in the yard.

“Then they were considered pests. But now, increasingly, call and ask how to take care of bats. So the changes really happened.”

the new York times contain estimates of the solely foreign media and do not reflect the views of the editorial Board of the new York times.