Thai researchers capture bats to study coronavirus

University researchers and wildlife officials teamed up to capture over 100 crowned bats in eastern Thailand for a study on how the flying mammals transmit the coronavirus. They hope their findings could prevent future pandemics.

Scientists chose to study the crowned bats after reading reports that the Covid-19 virus is associated with that subspecies. Crowned bats are also known as flying foxes and are found in parts of Southeast Asia. The team traveled to Chantaburi province near the border with Cambodia. They found the bats in a cave near the Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary.

The study represents the latest effort by Thai scientists, doctors, engineers, and innovators to contribute to global efforts to learn more about coronavirus, pandemics, and their origins, sources, solutions and prevention.

Thailand has been devoting resources to building more robust national capabilities in science, technology, research and development as part of its drive to achieve a higher level of development.

Researchers said this was the first time they had captured this type of bat to study. They said coronavirus had already been found in horseshoe bats in Thailand.

The team of scientists from Chulalongkorn and Kasetsart Universities enlisted the aid of wildlife officials and soldiers from the 544th marines to snare the creatures.

They were led by Dr. Supaporn Watcharaprueksadee, Deputy Director at the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases of Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, veterinarian Pattharaphol Manee-on, and Pratheep Duangkhae, a forestry expert from Kasetsart University.

“We’ve carried out research on bats and the diseases associated with them for almost 20 years, but we have never studied the crowned bats until now,” Dr. Supapron said.

“The easiest way to protect ourselves from the diseases is not hunting wild animals and to learn to co-exist with them,” Pattharaphol, the veterinarian said. “If we can do that, they can’t transmit the diseases to humans.”

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