In recent years, several bat-borne zoonotic diseases have emerged that cause substantial morbidity and mortality in humans. Many of these are caused by viruses that require the highest biosafety containment, including the ebolaviruses, Marburg virus, and Hendra and Nipah viruses. Other high containment pathogens that are bat-borne include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and rabies virus, and novel bat-specific influenza viruses, H17N10 and H18N11, were recently discovered. To date, more than 200 viruses have been isolated from, or detected in, bats. Considering that about 1200 species of bats have been identified, they are likely underappreciated as sources of infectious diseases. Moreover, bats are also afflicted by infectious agents, including rabies, Lloviu filovirus, Tacaribe virus and the fungus Geomyces destructans that causes white nose syndrome that has killed more than 5 million bats in North America. Despite the importance of bats as reservoirs of infectious agents, little is known about their biology or immunology, which presents a significant obstacle for understanding the ecology of infectious agents hosted by bats. The Bat-borne Infectious Diseases Symposium will provide an interactive forum for biomedical scientists, physicians, veterinarians and bat biologists to share research and to foster collaborations to study infectious diseases of bats. Several internationally-renowned scientists have agreed to present at the meeting, which should facilitate greater interest among the infectious disease community.
Bats are important hosts of many microorganisms that cause significant and highly fatal disease in humans. Oftentimes, the bats are infected with these microorganisms but without signs of disease. Other microorganisms cause significant disease in bats, such as white nose syndrome that is threatening extinction of some bat species. The objective of this meeting is to bring together laboratory scientists and bat biologists to learn and discuss bats and infectious diseases, and to foster collaborations to address how these viruses cause disease, circulate in nature and infect humans, and how these diseases might be treated.