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Virology

New flu virus found in bats

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The flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris; pictured) in Peru carries a flu virus that was previously unknown to science.

Credit: SA TEAM/FOTO NATURA/MINDEN PICTURES/GETTY

H18N11 is the second influenza A virus to be identified in bats, and both were found by a team led by Ruben Donis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The team found huge genetic diversity in bat influenza A viruses: four of eight bat viral gene segments harboured more genetic variation than did corresponding viral segments in other mammals and birds combined. Blood analyses also revealed that H18N11 infects several bat species.

Neither of the bat viruses has been found in humans, but the discoveries suggest that bats are a reservoir for diverse flu viruses that could fuel new infections.

PLoS Pathog. 9, e1003657 (2013)

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New flu virus found in bats. Nature 503, 169 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/503169e

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