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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: August 2009

21 - The role of bats as reservoir hosts of emerging neurological viruses

from Section III - Introduction: immunity, diagnosis, vector, and beneficial uses of neurotropic viruses
    • By John S. MacKenzie, Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, Curtain University of Technology, Perth, WA, Australia, James E. Childs, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Center for Epidemiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA, Hume E. Field, Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland, Australia, Lin-Fa Wang, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, Andrew C. Breed, School of Veterinary Science, Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Edited by Carol Shoshkes Reiss, New York University
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • DOI:
  • pp 382-406



It is now well-recognized that more than 75% of emerging diseases over the past 2 decades have been zoonoses. Many of these zoonotic viruses have caused neurological disease, especially those emerging during this period in the South-East Asian and Western Pacific regions [1, 2]. Most of the diseases emerging from wildlife have been from bats and rodents. Bats are only second to rodents in terms of mammalian species richness [3] and constitute about 20% of all mammalian species. Thus, with their wide distribution and abundance, it is not surprising that there is growing awareness that bats are the reservoir hosts for a number of these emerging viruses [4, 5, 6, 7] and suspected of being associated with many others on serological grounds. Not only have they been shown to be the reservoir hosts for rabies and related lyssaviruses but also for other human pathogens, or potential pathogens, such as SARS-coronavirus-like viruses [8, 9, 10], Ebola virus [11, 12], Menangle virus [13], and Hendra and Nipah viruses [14, 15, 16]. This brief review looks at the biological features that make bats good reservoir hosts, and the more important neurological viruses associated with bats that are, or have the potential to be, transmitted to humans.

Bats as reservoir hosts: Implications for virus transmission

The order chiroptera, their diversity, evolution, abundance, and social behavior

The mammalian Order Chiroptera is divided into two suborders, the Megachiroptera, or Old World fruit- and nectar-feeding bats, including flying foxes, and the Microchiroptera, or echolocating bats [17].

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