A Batty Conundrum

Bats are immune to Ebola, measles, and maybe even cancer. So why is white nose syndrome devastating some species?

January 13, 2015

"Evidence is mounting that bats can serve as reservoirs of many of the world’s deadliest viruses, including the pathogens behind Ebola, Marburg and related hemorrhagic fevers; acute respiratory syndromes like SARS and MERS; and even familiar villains like measles and mumps. Yet bats appear largely immune to the many viruses they carry and rarely show signs of the diseases that will rapidly overwhelm any human, monkey, horse, pig or other mammalian host the microbes manage to infiltrate."

—From “No Time for Bats to Rest Easy,” Natalie Angier’s New York Times story on the flying mammals’ exceptionalism—including long lives and apparent immunity to cancer—and the clues that, unexpectedly, their incredible immune systems may be what makes them so susceptible to the deadly white-nose syndrome.

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