The flu is common in humans, birds and pigs, and has even been documented in other animals like dogs, horses, seals and whales. And now scientists report first evidence of the flu in bats found in Guatemala.
The AP reports that a CDC outpost in Guatemala discovered what
researchers are calling the "genetic material of a flu virus" found in the
intestines of the Sturnira lilium, a little yellow-shouldered species of bat. They also believe that the virus has been growing for
Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that
the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety.
Scientists haven't even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs
or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.
But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it
mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and
mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the
global flu epidemic movie "Contagion."
These bats eat fruit and insects but don't bite people. Yet it's
possible they could leave the virus on produce and a human could get
infected by taking a bite.