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Researchers bust bat rabies stereotype
Date:1/31/2011

Bats tend to have a bad reputation. They sleep all day, party at night, and are commonly thought to be riddled with rabies. A study by University of Calgary researchers has confirmed that bats are not as disease-ridden as the stigma suggests.

"The notion that bats have high rates of rabies is not true," says Brandon Klug, a graduate student at the University of Calgary and the lead author of a paper published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

"Those of us that work with bats have always known the rates are low; and now we have evidence that bats aren't disease-ridden vermin their reputation would have you believe."

Previous studies have suggested that typically about 10 per cent of bats taken by the public to be tested have the disease and prevalence varies greatly, depending on the species and how often that species is around people. But University of Calgary research says the number is closer to one per cent regardless of species or where the bats roost.

Researchers compared bats turned in by the general public and those randomly sampled from their natural environment. In the field, they looked for the disease in carcasses of migratory tree-roosting hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) and silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans) killed by wind turbines. These species are among bat species with the highest reported prevalence of rabies in North America. At the same time they compared these bats with rabies prevalence from literature contained in public health records in North America.

"This study is significant because it confirms that rabies rates for bats has been over-estimated. It's also the first time such a rigorous literature review has been completed on this topic," says co-author Dr. Robert Barclay, biological science professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary.

University of Calgary researchers sent 217 carcasses to the Ce
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Contact: Leanne Yohemas
leanne.yohemas@ucalgary.ca
403-540-6552
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert  

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