New influenza virus discovered in Guatemalan fruit bats

New influenza virus discovered in Guatemalan fruit bats

May 01, 2012
By staff

ATLANTA — A new influenza A virus has been discovered in fruit bats in Guatemala, and preliminary research indicates that the new virus's genes are compatible with human influenza viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While there is no current threat to people, researchers say the discovery signals that a new animal species may act as a source of flu viruses.

Reassortment in an animal susceptiple to both bat and human strains of influenza would have to take place before the new virus could infect humans. Bat influenza viruses are known only to infect little yellow-shouldered bats, which are common in Central and South America and are not native to the United States, the CDC notes.

The full influenza virus study can be found in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.