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The Poliomyelitis Research Foundation cordially invites you to the 12th James HS Gear Memorial Lecture, where Prof Wanda Markotter will deliver a public lecture titled 'Linking bats with emerging viral diseases: Do we know for sure?' Prof Markotter is the incumbent of the SARChI Chair in Animal Infectious Diseases (Zoonoses) and Director of the Centre for Viral Zoonoses in the Department of Medical Virology at the University of Pretoria.
Date: Monday, 20 November 2017
Time: 17:30 for 18:00
Venue: Poliomyelitis Research Foundation Training Centre, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, 1 Modderfontein Road, Sandringham
RSVP: to Irma Latsky, 011 555 0395 or [email protected]
Refreshments will be served.


The recognition of bats as a serious threat to human health is a topic that attracts substantial attention. Studies have shown that bats carry many more zoonotic viruses than other mammals, and are implicated in transmitting a wide range of infections, for example rabies, Nipah, Hendra, Marburg and Ebola. In fact, the scientific foundations on which these associations are made are, in most cases, not well understood or researched. Furthermore, although diseases transmitted from bats are a reality, spill-over infections in humans are rare. Scientific evidence mostly concerns the presence of viruses in bats, but we still need to understand the role that bats play in the transmission of diseases to humans, as well as the conditions that facilitate this transmission. Spill-over events are rare due to limited bat-human contact, but when humans encroach into natural areas this risk increases. Bats are extremely important to our ecosystem because they pollinate flowers, especially ones that open at night; they also disperse seeds, and eat insects such as mosquitoes and crop pests, thereby contributing to human health. Linking fatal emerging human diseases to bats could have serious implications for bat conservation, including the destruction of roosts and extermination. It is therefore important to communicate the results of research on diseases that can be transferred from bats to humans in a way that is balanced and unbiased. 



- By Faculty of Health Sciences
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Prof Wanda Markotter