Virologica Sinica

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 93–99 | Cite as

Bats and viruses: a brief review

  • Lin-Fa WangEmail author


Bats, probably the most abundant, diverse and geographically dispersed vertebrates on earth, have recently been shown to be the reservoir hosts of a number of emerging viruses responsible for severe human and livestock disease outbreaks. Flying foxes have been demonstrated to be the natural reservoir for Hendra and Nipah viruses. Evidence supporting the possibility of bats as potential reservoirs for SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Ebola virus has also been reported. The recent discovery of these viruses and other viruses occurring naturally in the bat population provides a unique insight into a diverse pool of potentially emergent and pathogenic viruses. The factors which influence the ability of zoonotic viruses to effectively cross the species barrier from bats to other animal populations are poorly understood. A brief review is provided here on the recently emerged bat viruses and on current and future strategies for research in this area.

Key words

Bats Animal reservoir Spillover Emerging zoonoses Virus 

CLC number



Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Becker M M, Graham R L, Donaldson E F,et al. 2008. Synthetic recombinant bat SARS-like coronavirus is infectious in cultured cells and in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 105: 19944–19949.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Biek R, Walsh P D, Leroy E M,et al. 2006. Recent common ancestry of Ebola Zaire virus found in a bat reservoir. PLoS Pathog, 2: e90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Calisher C H, Childs J E, Field H E,et al. 2006. Bats: important reservoir hosts of emerging viruses. Clin Microbiol Rev, 19: 531–545.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chua K B, Bellini W J, Rota P A,et al. 2000. Nipah virus: a recently emergent deadly paramyxovirus. Science, 288: 1432–1435.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chua K B, Crameri G, Hyatt A,et al. 2007. A previously unknown reovirus of bat origin is associated with an acute respiratory disease in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 104: 11424–11429.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chua K B, Voon K, Crameri G,et al. 2008. Identification and characterization of a new orthoreovirus from patients with acute respiratory infections. PLoS ONE, 3: e3803.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chua K B, Wang L F, Lam S K,et al. 2001. Tioman virus, a novel paramyxovirus isolated from fruit bats in malaysia. Virology, 283: 215–229.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Eaton B T, Mackenzie J S, Wang L-F. 2007. Henipaviruses. In: Fields Virology (Knipe D M, Griffin D E, Lamb R A, et al. Ed), Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p1587–1600.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Epstein J H, Field H E, Luby S,et al. 2006. Nipah virus: impact, origins, and causes of emergence. Curr Infect Dis Rep, 8: 59–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Frye M S, Hedges S B. 1995. Monophyly of the order Rodentia inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences of the genes for 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, and tRNA-valine. Mol Biol Evol, 12: 168–176.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gard G P, Marshall I D. 1973. Nelson Bay virus. A novel reovirus. Arch Gesamte Virusforsch, 43: 34–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Guan Y, Zheng B J, He Y Q,et al. 2003. Isolation and characterization of viruses related to the SARS coronavirus from animals in southern China. Science, 302: 276–278.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gurley E S, Montgomery J M, Hossain M J,et al. 2007. Person-to-person transmission of Nipah virus in a Bangladeshi community. Emerg Infect Dis, 13: 1031–1037.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Halpin K, Young P L, Field H E,et al. 2000. Isolation of Hendra virus from pteropid bats: a natural reservoir of Hendra virus. J Gen Virol, 81: 1927–1932.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Harcourt B H, Lowe L, Tamin A,et al. 2005. Genetic characterization of Nipah virus, Bangladesh, 2004. Emerg Infect Dis, 11: 1594–1597.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lau S K, Woo P C, Li K S,et al. 2005. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-like virus in Chinese horseshoe bats. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 102: 14040–14045.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Leroy E M, Kumulungui B, Pourrut X,et al. 2005. Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus. Nature, 438: 575–576.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Li W, Shi Z, Yu M,et al. 2005. Bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses. Science, 310: 676–679.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Li Y, Wang J, Hickey A C,et al. 2008. Antibodies to Nipah or Nipah-like viruses in bats, China. Emerg Infect Dis, 14: 1974–1976.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Morvan J M, Deubel V, Gounon P,et al. 1999. Identification of Ebola virus sequences present as RNA or DNA in organs of terrestrial small mammals of the Central African Republic. Microbes Infect, 1: 1193–1201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Murray K, Rogers R, Selvey L,et al. 1995. A novel morbillivirus pneumonia of horses and its transmission to humans. Emerg Infect Dis, 1: 31–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Murray K, Selleck P, Hooper P,et al. 1995. A morbillivirus that caused fatal disease in horses and humans. Science, 268: 94–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Peiris J S, Guan Y, Yuen K Y. 2004. Severe acute respiratory syndrome. Nat Med, 10: S88–S97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Philbey A W, Kirkland P D, Ross A D,et al. 1998. An apparently new virus (family Paramyxoviridae) infectious for pigs, humans, and fruit bats. Emerg Infect Dis, 4: 269–271.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Philbey A W, Kirkland P D, Ross A D,et al. 2008. Infection with Menangle virus in flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) in Australia. Aust Vet J, 86: 449–454.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Pritchard L I, Chua K B, Cummins D,et al. 2006. Pulau virus; a new member of the Nelson Bay orthoreovirus species isolated from fruit bats in Malaysia. Arch Virol, 151: 229–239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Simmons N B. 2005. Order Chiroptera. In Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference, 3rd ed, pp. 312–529. Edited by Wilson D E & Reeder D M. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Teeling E C, Springer M S, Madsen O,et al. 2005. A molecular phylogeny for bats illuminates biogeography and the fossil record. Science, 307: 580–584.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Towner J S, Pourrut X, Albarino C G,et al. 2007. Marburg virus infection detected in a common African bat. PLoS ONE, 2: e764.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wang L F, Shi Z, Zhang S,et al. 2006. Review of bats and SARS. Emerg Infect Dis, 12: 1834–1840.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Yaiw K C, Bingham J, Crameri G,et al. 2008. Tioman virus, a paramyxovirus of bat origin, causes mild disease in pigs and has a predilection for lymphoid tissues. J Virol, 82: 565–568.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Yaiw K C, Crameri G, Wang L,et al. 2007. Serological evidence of possible human infection with Tioman virus, a newly described paramyxovirus of bat origin. J Infect Dis, 196: 884–886.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Young P L, Halpin K, Selleck P W,et al. 1996. Serologic evidence for the presence in Pteropus bats of a paramyxovirus related to equine morbillivirus. Emerg Infect Dis, 2: 239–240.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Livestock IndustriesAustralian Animal Health Laboratory and Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research CentreGeelongAustralia

Personalised recommendations