Ghana joins International efforts to predict the next pandemic

Bats Ghana
Ghana joins global initiative aimed at predicting and potentially preventing future pandemics
This global project known as Bat OneHealth aims to; carry out field studies of bats in global hotspots, understand bat immunology, physiology, and behavior, predict which viruses infect humans, model virus dynamics and spillover, and restore landscapes to stop spillover. Bats are animals with remarkable characteristics that make them significant to global health. Their immune tolerance and innate viral reservoirs make them crucial to detecting and understanding emerging infectious diseases that could pose risks to human health.
BBC journalists paid a visit to a team of scientists from the University of Ghana’s veterinary school who set out to analyze bat droppings or guano. The lead scientist Dr Richard Suu-ire who has been studying bats for many years explained that they were testing for paramyxoviruses and coronaviruses in the bats. He further explained that in humans, these viruses were more familiarly experienced as illnesses such as mumps, measles, and respiratory tract infections. The bats, however, were “reservoirs” because they carry the infection without getting sick themselves. The bats were first fed with pawpaw fruit, then their bright orange dropping was collected on a tarpaulin which was stored in test tubes. The purpose of this was to find if there were bacteria in the bat faeces which was resistant to antibiotics. According to Dr Suu-ire, If any resistance was found, in the future these resistant genes will be isolated from these bacteria.
At the sterile high-security labs at the Noguchi Institute for Medical Research, Associate Professor of Virology Kofi Bonney also examined bat droppings from Accra Zoo. He mentioned that following the pandemic, he and his team have been exceptionally busy in the worldwide endeavor of actively addressing any forthcoming viral outbreaks. He explained the growing relevance of the Bat OneHealth project: “We should have the environment working together with the animals’ sector and the humanitarian sector. We must set up systems that will pick up some of these viruses very early so that we can curtail the spread.

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