PH, Japan scientists look into possible viruses in Samal bats

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

A GROUP of scientists from the Philippines and Japan are conducting a study to look into the possibility of flu and other viral infection that could be affecting bats at the Monfort Bat Sanctuary in the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos).

Dr. Joseph Masangkay, University of the Philippines (UP) professor and the overall coordinator said the study, which aims to look into the veracity of reports on the possibility of viral infection among bats, is expected to be completed in three years.

Speaking during Wednesday's Club 888 media forum at the Marco Polo Hotel, Masangkay said the study, which started last year, is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan in coordination with the University of Tokyo, University of Azabo, and with the UP-Los Baños College of Veterinary Medicine.


A pool of researchers aims to look into the possibility of specific virus in bats including rabies, hendra, nipah, and other incidental viruses.

"This study is very important because this will educate us on the possible infections that bats might also transmit to humans," Masangkay said.

The same study was first conducted in various areas across the country with the same objectives and sets of researchers.

Norma Monfort, owner of the Monfort Bat Cave in Igacos, in the same forum, said, "bats play a vital role in the environment and in the balance of the ecosystem. Hence, all must work hand in hand to keep their population to grow healthy."

"Bat is one of the most important pollinators and helpa in controlling pests," Monfort said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 01, 2012.

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