In America, bats are well known carriers of rabies, but luckily, bats rarely, if ever, transmit the disease to humans, as humans rarely make contact with bats in North America. In many other regions of the world, bats are not so harmless. For example, the Marburg virus is a disease that is transmitted from bats to humans, and in most cases, the disease results in death. At the moment, the habitat of these diseased bats is largely limited to the African country of Uganda, but American public health officials are worried about the possible global spread of this disease.
Officials with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently studying the bats on location in Uganda, where several Marburg outbreaks have already occured. The CDC officials are studying the nocturnal habits of these bats in order to better understand how to prevent further Marburg outbreaks from occurring as well as to develop containment methods for preventing the spread of the Marburg virus to the US and other parts of the world. So far, only one case of Marburg fever has been documented in the US. This single case involved an individual who became infected with the virus in Uganda before traveling to the US.
Public health officials working for the CDC are asking officials with the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to flip the bill for thousands of additional bat trackers for use in Uganda. These trackers cost around 1,000 dollars each, but CDC officials in Uganda insist that they are necessary in order to prevent Marburg from becoming a global threat. The disease has already made its way to the Netherlands and the United States by means of infected individuals leaving Uganda. An American and a Dutch citizen both became infected with Marburg after visiting a popular cave that is known for containing vast amounts of Marburg-infected fruit bats. The American was lucky to survive, but sadly, the Dutch citizen passed away due to the illness.
Do you think that Marburg fever will eventually emerge in American bat populations?