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Bats carrying viruses that can lead to an AIDS-like disease threaten to wipe out koala population 

Bats carrying viruses that can lead to an AIDS-like disease threaten to wipe out Australia’s koala population

  • Bats are acting as flying carriers for several viruses that are deadly to koalas
  • The virus can trigger the koala retrovirus called KoRV, which can lead to cancer 
  • Scientists believe this is a greater threat to the koala population than bushfires

Bats are acting as flying carriers for several deadly viruses that could trigger an AIDS-like disease in koalas which could wipe out their already vulnerable population.  

The viruses that have been found in bats can trigger the koala retrovirus called KoRV, which exposes them to cancer, chlamydia, infertility, blindness and kidney failure.  

Scientists believe bats transmitting an infectious retrovirus could be a greater threat to the koala population than the recent bushfires, which killed thousands of the marsupials and destroyed hundreds of their colonies. 

The viruses that have been found in bats can trigger the koala retrovirus called KoRV, which exposes them to cancer, chlamydia, infertility, blindness and kidney failure

Retroviruses, such as HIV, are a type of virus that uses a special enzyme to translate its genetic information into DNA. 

That DNA can be integrated into the host cell’s DNA which causes the infection. 

Burnet Institute research officer Joshua Hayward said bats could also transmit the retrovirus to other animals. 

He said this may explain how KoRV-related viruses made its way to Australia from Southeast Asia. 

Scientists believe bats transmitting an infectious retrovirus could be a greater threat to the koala population than the recent bushfires, which killed thousands of the marsupials and destroyed hundreds of their colonies

Scientists believe bats transmitting an infectious retrovirus could be a greater threat to the koala population than the recent bushfires, which killed thousands of the marsupials and destroyed hundreds of their colonies 

WHAT IS KoRV? 

It is a koala retrovirus.

Retroviruses, such as HIV, are a type of virus that uses a special enzyme to translate its genetic information into DNA.

That DNA can be integrated into the host cell’s DNA which causes the infection. 

This can also expose koalas to cancer, chlamydia, infertility, blindness and kidney failure. 

‘It highlights the role of bats as really important reservoirs of ­viruses that can be transmitted to other animal species,’ Dr Hayward told The Australian. 

‘Our nation is trying to conserve koala populations decimated by the fires, but how can they be protected from viruses? The existence and spread of KoRV and other infectious threats is something likely to concern conservation scientists.’ 

Dr Hayward said bats were able to host the viruses, including Ebola, Hendra and coronaviruses, but remain unaffected by them. 

He also said bats transmit the deadly viruses through their droppings and bodily fluids. 

The koala population has been decreasing in recent decades due to disease and deforestation. 

Their population dwindled further after many koalas died in the bushfires.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk