18 Nov 2013

PNG investigating role of bats in spreading disease

2:40 pm on 18 November 2013

Papua New Guinea is undertaking a series of bat surveillance exercises to identify any potential disease threat to humans.

The research is being headed by the newly established Zoonoses and Neglected Diseases section of the Institute of Medical Research.

The section head, Dr Yazid Abdad, says it has been well documented that bats are carriers of diseases that have recently caused epidemics, such as coronaviruses like SARS, influenza and


He says for many Papua New Guineans bats are food source and this would be one of the ways that any disease could be transmitted.

"Ingestion of bats is one of the methods for getting diseases from bats. There are other ways, such as direct contact, when a bat comes into contact with a human, such as a bite or a claw mark. Also indirect contact via other animals or other insects that have bitten the bat and passed it on to humans, and also contamination of surfaces with bat saliva, bat urine or bat guano."

Dr Yazid Abdad of the Institute of Medical Research