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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Conclusion

Bats harbour viruses that may become zoonotic. Circumstances facilitating spillover include direct contact with bats (bites, scratches, consumption of bats), contact with material contaminated by bat saliva, faeces or urine and amplification via intermediate hosts such as domestic animals or other wildlife species. Conservational actions are not only important to prevent spillovers, but also because emerging zoonotic viruses often lead to persecution of bats. In order to reduce the transmission risk of viruses from bats to human and livestock and to protect bat species at threat, educational efforts are needed. However, entrenched cultural and social components often act as barriers to efficient changes on how people think about and respond to bats. Whenever possible, educational efforts should be done in an informative, non-lurid way, presenting the facts rather than provoking additional fears to the already bad reputation of bats. Wherever possible, solutions should be found to enable the existence of bats in anthropogenic landscape, including the development of more affordable and readily available vaccinations (e.g. against rabies), and the reduction of potential contact between bats and humans and livestock. This however also includes that the natural habitats of bats need to be better protected to provide bat populations with sufficient space and to prevent range expansion into urban and suburban areas, where contact with humans and livestock may increase the risk of spillover events. Bat-borne viruses should be considered during bat conservation efforts, and it should be equally noticed that appropriate conservation measures may even reduce the risk of viral spillover from bat populations into human populations.

 
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