Why Do Bats Transmit So Many Diseases Like Ebola?
Adorable animation paired with relaxing acoustic music make this YouTube video enjoyable for viewers of all ages. However, its scientific message is just as interesting (and important) as its artwork is cute.
In MinuteEarth's "Why Do Bats Transmit So Many Diseases Like Ebola," viewers get a brief evolutionary explanation of how bats have become carriers for increasingly hardy viruses. It effectively boils down years of research into three minutes. The video was released during a time of great and terrible studies in the world of virology. In light of 2014's Ebola outbreak in West Africa, scientists are trying to get to the root of the spread of the virus as quickly as possible. Bats are key to this, playing the role of carriers as the video explains, but mankind's impact on bats' natural habitats may be where it all began.
Humans often overstep their boundaries in nature, resulting in catastrophic changes in cycles that have continued peacefully for ages. Over the course of time, bats have been able to get their body temperatures high enough to kill potentially harmful viruses -- all that remains of the attackers are the strongest, most resilient ones. These survive to infect land-dwellers who have not evolved strengthened immune systems. Yet while bats make excellent carriers for viruses due to their heightened, flight-ready immune systems, it is human action that has caused bats to come in close contact with us.
"As people go further and further into these rain-forest-type areas, they seem to come more in contact with the reservoirs of the virus," Robert Garry, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University told Aljazeera America. "In this case, it looks like [people in Guinea] just cut far enough into the forest to find a reservoir."
As health organizations work to keep the Ebola virus from continuing its path of destruction, we recognize the necessity of informing the public regarding the virus. After all, its path of destruction started with ours.