WAB-Net scientists participate in risk assessment of SARS-CoV-2 ‘spill-back’ into bat populations from people
Summary: Two WAB-Net scientists, Dr. Kevin Olival (EcoHealth Alliance) and Dr. Tigga Kingston (Texas Tech University, and a member of the WAB-Net Scientific Advisory Board) recently participated in a risk assessment led by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to determine the threat of SARS-COV-2 ‘spill back’ from humans into bat populations. Researchers who capture and handle bats as part of their fieldwork could infect bat populations with the virus if they themselves are infected. The concern is twofold: Firstly, SARS-CoV-2 could negatively affect the health of North American bat populations – a significant concern, especially for those species already being decimated by the fungus causing white-nose syndrome. Secondly, if SARS-CoV-2 becomes established in North American bat populations, it would be difficult to eradicate the virus, and the bats could serve as a new reservoir for continued spillover into human populations.