The ‘Bats and Coronaviruses‘ project leverages the expertise of EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) scientists to train regional scientists in best practices of bat sampling and biosafety in their respective countries.
‘Field training’ consists of the following components:
*Note that sampling of bats involves non-lethal methods
- Site characterization – Personnel are instructed on how to assess and record the environmental characteristics of a field site that will be used in later analyses to determine environmental risk factors associated with viral spillover. This allows for the documenting of the environmental and human disturbance profile of the immediate area surrounding each sampling site. Such profile data will be investigated as potential correlates of viral richness and diversity across the region.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Personnel are instructed on how to properly don and remove personal protective equipment, worn to reduce the risk of viral spillover while working with bats in the field.
- Bat capture – Personnel are instructed on how to properly assemble and situate mist nets and harp traps – the main devices used for non-lethal bat capture.
- Bat handling and sampling – Personnel are instructed on how to safely remove bats from mist nets and harp traps, handle bats, identify species, sex and age classes, and reproductive status, obtain morphological measurements and collect diagnostic samples.
- Acoustic recording – Personnel are instructed on how to record echolocation calls from a bat upon its release. Information from these recorded calls (i.e., peak frequency, call duration, etc.) is necessary for building a regional call library.
- Data entry and management – Personnel are instructed on how to record data in an accurate, clear, and efficient manner. While in the field, participants record data onto a paper spreadsheet (this includes data about the site, the morphological and life-history data of each bat, and samples collected from each bat). After having returned from the field, data from this spreadsheet is then uploaded to a secure, access-limited database.
- Cold-chain management – Personnel are instructed on how to maintain proper ‘cold-chain’ of diagnostic samples collected from bats.