EWDA Summerlecture @ University of Ghent: Bats threatening or threatened

May 22, 2017

Dear Participants,

​Thank you for signing up to our summer lecture. We are indeed very excited to welcome you to our first summer lecture (and hopefully not the last).

Some details:
Subject: Bats Threatening Or Threatened​
Time: 19.30
Location: Auditorium D, faculty of Veterinary Medicine Ghent.

For those not familiair with the university, in the attachments you will find a small map with a lot of arrows, mainly the arrows pointing at the entrance, parking and number 5 are interesting for you! You can find Auditorium D in the building of medical imaging, but don't worry, we will be there to guide you as well.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us (vsdw@ugent.be) or for urgent matters on monday evening you can always call.

Kind Regards,

The VSDW-Team

On the 31st of July the Student Chapter of EWDA (European Wildlife Disease Association) will organize their first Summerlecture together with the VSDW, because, why would you stop learning amazing stuff? This lecture will be all about the bats (see below for more info). This lecture will be given by world leading expert Prof. Vikram Misra, from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. To make sure we can make this actually happen, we need to know you are coming. So please fill in the form below. The event will be the 31st of July at 19h30.

Bats threatening or threatened

Prof. Vikram Misra, Dept. of Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Many people are terrified of bats! When you mention bats their thoughts turn to vampires and other mysterious creatures of the night. Much of this is because we know very little about bats. In reality, they are amazing animals that are critical for environmental health. In the millions of years that bats have been around, they have evolved unique adaptations to their unique lifestyles and the pathogens they encounter. They also have much to teach us.

In recent years several viruses that appear to cause no overt disease in their natural bat hosts have spilled over into people and other animals causing serious and often fatal disease. My laboratory wants to answer two questions about bats and their viruses – Why don’t their viruses make bats get sick? And – Why do bat viruses spillover to other animals? We have discovered that like humans bats respond to viral infections with an antiviral innate response but unlike humans and other animals they seem to actively suppress inflammation. Since an overblown inflammatory response is often responsible for pathology and for making the effects of viral infection much worse, this may explain why people get very sick with diseases like SARS, MERS and Ebola but bats, infected with similar viruses don’t. We have also discovered that bats seem to have relatively harmonious relationships with some viruses and that these viruses cause low level, asymptomatic persistent infections. However, this relationship can be disturbed by stress, such as that caused by a fungal infection that is currently killing bats in North America. Stress appears to cause an increase in viral replication. If environmental and other stressors similarly upset virus-bat relationships it may explain why spillover events are often accompanied by deforestation and bat habitat destruction.