Integrating Bat Ecology and Pathogen Surveillance: The Western Asia Bat Research Network

EcoHealth Alliance
Publicado: 29 Agosto 2022
Última edición: 29 Agosto 2022
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Summary

The Western Asia Bat Research Network (WAB-Net) aims to enhance bat conservation and zoonotic disease detection through collaborative research and capacity building-focused trainings with bat biologists, virologists, government authorities, and academics from the region. WAB-Net coordinates research focused on bats, zoonotic diseases, and host-virus dynamics in 7 countries. This proactive approach to pandemic prevention aims to identify both zoonotic viruses before they spill over from bat hosts to humans and the risk factors associated with spillover. Field trainings, including proper PPE usage, bat capture and handling, and cold chain management, promote positive health outcomes for both the humans and bats. All samples are sent to two regional labs where trainings and standardized protocols are implemented, furthering biosafety and scientific advancement in the region. WAB-Net’s “bats for peace” mission promotes strengthened outcomes in both scientific discoveries and constructive political conversations.

Classifications

Region
Oeste de Asia, Medio Oriente
Scale of implementation
Multinacional
Nacional
Subnacional
Ecosystem
Bosque templado caducifolio
Bosques siempreverde templado
Desierto caliente
Ecosistemas de pastizales
Ecosistemas del desierto
Ecosistemas forestales
Pastizales templados, sabana, matorral
Theme
Acceso y participación en los beneficios
Ciencia y investigación
Conectividad / conservación transfronteriza
Especies y la extinción
Marco legal y normativo
One Health
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Evaluación del estado de las especies
Vigilancia de la salud de la vida silvestre (para capturar la vigilancia de la biodiversidad, la salud, las enfermedades y los patógenos)
Seguimiento e investigación de especies
Especies Enfermedades Sistemas de alerta temprana
Planificación de la conservación de especies
Comunicación de riesgos, participación de la comunidad y cambio de comportamiento
Evaluación de riesgos
Investigación de brotes y acceso al laboratorio
Mecanismo de coordinación de One Health
One Health
Sanidad animal
El vínculo entre biodiversidad y salud
Enfermedades tropicales desatendidas, enfermedades infecciosas emergentes, enfermedades no transmisibles, zoonosis y resistencia a los antimicrobianos
Challenges
Pérdida de la biodiversidad
Usos conflictivos / impactos acumulativos
Pérdida de ecosistemas
Health
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Falta de capacidad técnica
Deficiente vigilancia y aplicación de la ley
Deficiente gobernanza y participación

Ubicación

Armenia
Azerbaijan
Georgia
Jordan
Oman
Pakistan
Turkey

Challenges

The region of Western Asia is both geopolitically contentious and an understudied region in terms of the diversity and distribution of bat species and their associated viruses. Despite the critical ecological and economic roles that bats play in maintaining healthy ecosystems around the world, bats are greatly underappreciated especially compared to other more “charismatic” species. WAB-Net addresses multiple social and environmental challenges by finding commonalities and shared interests amongst regional One Health expertise, which has resulted in open communication, building of trust, and fostering collaborative relationships across the region. 

Beneficiaries

  • Humans in the region, their health and wellbeing
  • Bat species across the region, their health and conservation
  • Global human population, through pandemic prevention and positively enhanced geopolitical dynamics

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The One Health approach is an inherently collaborative one – by valuing human, animal, and environmental health outcomes and recognizing their interdependence on one another, One Health encourages coordination across disciplines. WAB-Net utilizes a One Health approach and brings together multi-sectoral experts for regional discussions and trainings. By including each sector in their hands-on trainings WAB-Net is able to create well-informed and diverse field teams.

Impacts

Western Asia has been historically overlooked as ecologically important for bat species. The work of WAB-Net is filling in knowledge and awareness gaps for this crossroads location. The standardization of protocols at the two regional laboratories where all diagnostic samples are tested improves efficiency and increases scientists’ ability to repeat processes and compare results. The trainings provided are uniquely in-depth and hands-on, with scientists often spending weeks in-country with field teams demonstrating proper biosafety and nonlethal sampling procedures. This fosters long term relationships and allows for additional ecological data to be collected, advancing overall conservation and scientific goals. The collaborative nature of WAB-Net’s work also plays an essential role in building and maintaining relationships across diverse cultures, religions, and country lines.

Contribuido por

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Kelly Rose Nunziata EcoHealth Alliance