Why do bats tolerate the viral infections they transmit to other species?
Bats are unusual among mammals in a number of ways and are notable for their tendency to host a wide range of viruses, some of which cause severe disease in humans and other mammals. By comparing the immune responses of bats with other mammalian hosts, it is possible to see why bats seem to tolerate these viral infections which are highly pathogenic in other hosts. In a recent paper, IDReC researcher Dave Hayman summarises differences in traits related to longevity and infection between bats and other mammals. The results reveal that by mitigating the effects inflammatory molecules brought on by infection, bats better tolerate viral infections and may have inadvertently increased bat lifespan by reducing DNA damage to telomeres.
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