Prevention From the Jump

Understanding how deadly zoonotic viruses like AIDS or Zika jump from animals to humans can prevent future outbreaks.
Through painstaking surveillance helped by a $10 million DARPA grant, researchers pinpointed “spillovers” of Nipah virus from bats to humans in Bangladesh. Date palm sap, a popular drink, was identified as a culprit—bats drink the sap from trees and shed virus-contaminated bodily fluids into sap collection pots below.
Identifying why animals shed viruses is also key, says researcher Emily Gurley. As humans invade their territory, bats may shed more Nipah out of stress. Protected habitats may help curb future outbreaks.
“It’s classic primary prevention,” Gurley says.
Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health

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