Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
This week, I update the COVID numbers, globally and nationally. India now is second only to the United States in the number of cases. In the number of deaths, the U.S. is first, followed by Brazil, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.
It seemed like this would be a good week to dive into an area that has been of interest since the pandemic began, and for scientists, much longer than that. What is the role of bats in spreading viruses to humans? I spoke to experts in this area of research and share a lot of information about bats in this week’s video. Interesting facts: bats are not rodents, they are not blind, they are the only mammals that fly and besides birds, the only vertebrates that fly. They are a reservoir for a large number of viruses. SARS was found in horseshoe bats. The symptoms of Ebola are indistinguishable from the hemorrhagic fever from old world fruit bats. While rabies kills most mammals, it does not kill bats.
Bats can live up to 41 years old. Insect-eating bats eat billions of tons of insects each summer. Fruit bats bring us over 450 commercial products and 80 medicines through pollination and seed dispersal. Over 95 percent of rainforest regrowth comes from seeds that have been spread by fruit bats.
Texas has the most bats of any state in the nation; home to 32 of the 47 species of bats found in the U.S. It has the largest known bat colony in the world, Bracken Cave Preserve near San Antonio, and two of the largest urban bat colonies – the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin and the Waugh Bridge in Houston.
This, and much more about bats, in the video message.
And just so you don’t think I’m only about science, vaccines and bats, you might enjoy reading about my outside-the-office hobby. Houston Chronicle reporter Julie Garcia and photographer Karen Warren give away my secrets in a story this week.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO