Study absolves bats of spreading dengue

A new study gives bats a clean bill of health as possible repositories of the dengue virus.

A team of researchers from several universities used genetic analysis to find out if mosquitoes could carry virus from mosquitoes to other victims.

A previous study said this was the case, and other small animals, such as birds, are well-known carriers of other viruses that are passed on when other mosquitoes sample their blood.

Much of the work was by Amanda Vicente Santos, who did the research for a master’s degree thesis. She was supervised by Eugenia Corrales Aguilar, a microbiologist at the Centro de Investigación en Enfermedades Tropicales at the Universidad de Costa Rica, said the university. The study focused on the dengue virus.

Also involved were veterinarians from Universidad Nacional in Heredia and entomologists at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia.

Samples came from the Central Valley Sarapiquí and Nicoya.  In all, 318 bats representing 12 species, 651 mosquitoes and 29 homes were studied. Researchers noted that bats are the mammals most abundant in Costa Rica. The researchers wanted to see if bats carried dengue in their bloodstreams and if mosquitoes fed on bats.

The opposite was found to be true. The bats fed on mosquitoes, according to the findings reported by the university. That was determined by studying the immunoglobulin M molecules in the blood of the bats, said the university.

In addition, the research showed that mosquitoes consumed blood from other mammals but not from bats, the university said. Some bats, however, carried other viruses, it added.

About 8.8 percent of the bats did, however carry the dengue virus in their stomachs from feeding on mosquitoes, said the researchers.

This is one of 114 species of bats found in Costa Rica. The country hosts 11 percent of the bats in the world.

This is one of 114 species of bats found in Costa Rica. The country hosts 11 percent of the bats in the world.

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