What bats might be able to teach us about AIDS


Carol Meteyer, USGS National Wildlife Health Center


With an estimated 6.7 million bat deaths related to white nose syndrome, understanding this devastating disease is more important than ever.  Wildlife Pathologist Carol Meteyer, from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, has been studying the carcasses of bats that survived white nose syndrome infections, only to succumb to their own immune systems. The overactive immune response is called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). While hibernating, the immune system of these bats are down-regulated making them more vulnerable to white nose syndrome infections that results in muscle, skin and connective tissue wasting. When the bats arouse from hibernation, their immune systems go into hyperdrive attempting to eliminate the pathogen, resulting in the destruction of not only the disease, but also healthy tissues and cells.

Like these bats, people with AIDS also suffer from overactive immune systems causing severe tissue damage following antiretroviral treatments. Therefore, researchers are studying the response in bats in the hope of finding new treatments for AIDS. 


To learn more about white nose syndrome, see:

White Nose Syndrome - Revisited

White Nose Syndrome - Continued

Hibernating North American Bats Face Possible Endangerment


USGS press release

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This is very interesting I always believed in the myth that bats don't die,they are immortal but now I am informed but with us humans it is better because we can prevent AIDS whereas bats cannot really prevent White Nose. My question though is that can this syndrome be prevented if he bats do not hibernate? (which is almost impossible I know)

This is very interesting I always believed in the myth that bats are immortal but now I am informed but humans can prevent AIDS unlike bats who have no control. So I was wondering if this syndrome can be prevented if the bats do not hibernate? (Which is almost impossible I know)

This is new knowledge to me but now I am wondering that does this mean that all the bats die after hibernating. This is sad because can`t prevent this syndrome whereas us humans can prevent AIDS.

By N Tshabalala 1… (not verified) on 04 May 2014 #permalink