Bats Getting All Sappy

In Bangladesh, epidemiologists solved a disease mystery a few years ago when they traced clusters of Nipah virus to drinking raw date palm sap, tapped from trees.

Unfortunately, Nipah-shedding bats also enjoy the sap. Thanks to infrared cameras, they were busted licking the sap dripping into collection pots—even peeing into the pots, leading to a government campaign to dissuade sap consumption. Yet clusters of illness continued, including 14 cases—and 8 deaths—last year. Disease detectives learned that some men drink date palm wine made from the sap, a fact they were reluctant to discuss it because Muslim law restricts alcohol consumption in Bangladesh.

Epidemiologists are tracking the cases, amid concerns that the virus could adapt to jump among humans more efficiently.

NPR Goats and Soda

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