ATLANTA – For the first time, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a never-before-seen virus whose risk to humans is unclear.
The surprising discovery of genetic fragments of a flu virus is the first well-documented report of it in the winged mammals. So far, scientists haven’t been able to grow it, and it’s not clear if — or how well — it spreads.
Flu bugs are common in humans, birds and pigs and have even been seen in dogs, horses, seals and whales, among others. About five years ago, Russian virologists claimed finding flu in bats, but they never offered evidence.
“Most people are fairly convinced we had already discovered flu in all the possible” animals, said Ruben Donis, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who co-authored the new study.