Date: 25 Sep 2012

On Viruses, Bats and Men: A Natural History of Food-Borne Viral Infections


In this chapter, cross-species infections from bats to humans are reviewed that do or do not use intermediate animal amplification hosts and that lead to human-human transmissions with various efficiencies. Rabies infections, Hendra virus infections in Australia, Nipah virus infections in Malaysia and Bangladesh and SARS coronavirus infection in China are explored from the public health perspective. Factors of bat biology are discussed which make them ideal virus reservoirs for emerging diseases. In line with the book theme, it is asked whether even in these epidemic conditions, viruses can be seen as essential agents of life where host species use their viruses to defend their ecological position against intruders. It is asked whether another essential function of animal viral infections could be the “killing the winning population” phenomenon known from phage biology which would stabilize species diversity in nature.