Unleashing bats could stop Zika outbreak
A few months ago, no one could even think that bats could be the answer to Zika virus. But since bats eat mosquitoes that carry Zika virus, bats have become the new heroes. Being from Orlando Florida, this is certainly not what we would have expected. Read on.
What is the Zika virus?
Zika is a deadly virus. Although there are no cases of death due to this disease and a majority of people affected with Zika don’t even go to a hospital. However, when a mosquito carrying Zika virus bites a pregnant woman for example, the outcomes could be devastating.
Zika virus can cause serious defects in unborn babies. It can even cause brain defects.
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Zika. Many people infected with this virus have reported mild or no symptoms. The easiest way to diagnose this disease is urine/blood test.
How bats can help fight Zika
For centuries, bats have been largely feared by us. We held them responsible for rabies. Many blamed bats for transmitting the deadly Ebola virus in the past, when the evidence clearly suggested otherwise.
As there have been numerous reported cases of Zika in the U.S in past six months, many residents are asking for bat houses. Fortunately, many states are already making plans to build bat houses to reduce the population of Zika-carrier mosquitoes, Miami being the latest to join this trend. Will Orlando be next?
One of the first few cities to put bat houses in all major parks is Rockledge. However, the city has taken a step further to put bat boxes at schools to help kids and mothers stay away from Zika mosquito bite.
Mind you, one bat can kill more than 4,000 of these mosquitoes in a night. A bat can live for up to 20 years and a bat box can easily house 10-12 bats.
With a few hundred bats protecting each city, Zika could find it difficult to infect humans.
Despite this natural solution to stop the outbreak of Zika, many are laughing off the idea of bat houses. This mindset is mainly due to how we have blamed bats for all deadly viruses in the past.
On the contrary however, some scientists believe that Zika-carrying mosquitoes bite during the day and bats are predators of the night so the two rarely encounter, making bats useless against Zika.
Are bats responsible for rabies, histoplasmosis, and Ebola?
With bats houses becoming a reality in the U.S, many people have started asking whether bats were actually responsible for the outbreak of rabies and histoplasmosis, or they were used as a scapegoat.
As far as rabies is concerned, some species of bats can carry and transmit this disease. However, their number is usually ignorable compared to the number of other carriers, raccoons in particular.
On the other hand, bats could be responsible for the outbreak of histoplasmosis but not more than birds. Both bats and birds have fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which is responsible for causing this deadly disease. So technically, bats pose a relatively smaller risk of histoplasmosis outbreak compared to backyard chickens.
Some people have blamed bats for Ebola outbreak. There is no truth in it as bats can’t catch Ebola due to their ever-evolving immune system.
Although bats could potentially become a major weapon to fight Zika, we may have to do more to stop Zika outbreak. Simple steps such as draining the standing water and using mosquito repellants could help stop the Zika. We will be curious to see how this plays out in Orlando Fl, and how it will affect you and I.