For the first time, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a never-before-seen virus whose risk to humans is unclear
Bat flu: human risk unclear
By Mike Stobbe
Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety. Scientists haven't even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.
These bats eat fruit and insects but don't bite people. Yet it's possible they could leave the virus on produce and a human could get infected by taking a bite.
At least one expert said CDC researchers need to do more to establish they've actually found a flu virus.
Technically, what the CDC officials found was genetic material of a flu virus. They used a lab technique to find genes for the virus and amplify it.
All they found was a segment of genetic material, said Richard “Mick” Fulton, a bird disease researcher at Michigan State University.
What they should do is draw blood from more bats, try to infect other bats and take other steps to establish that the virus is spreading among the animals, he continued. “In my mind, if you can't grow the virus, how do you know that the virus is there?”
Donis said work is going on to try to infect healthy bats, but noted there are other viruses that were discovered by genetic sequencing but are hard to grow in a lab, including hepatitis C. - Sapa-AP
Font: Online Journal/Reuters