Investigation of diversity of hosts and pathogens of zoonotic potential within the bat trade in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
Bats are known carriers of several zoonotic pathogens, and exposure to bats or their bodily fluids is a key risk factor for spillover events with potential for human epidemics. The increase in hunting and human consumption of bats in areas of dense urban population and in a region with high estimated zoonotic viral diversity is therefore a concerning trend. This cross-sectional observational study investigating the diversity of hosts and pathogens with zoonotic potential within the bat trade (in bats and people associated with the trade; e.g., hunters, transporters, market traders) aims to gather clear evidence for the policy dialogue for improving market management and reducing trade and demand. We aim to provide better understanding of the zoonotic disease risk context and demonstrate shared exposure to pathogens between these groups. The data can then be used to demonstrate the inherent and existing risk in the local bat trade, and to engage with the Congolese government to plan and implement strategies to reduce zoonotic disease risks in bat markets.
Photo Credit: ‘Bat sampling in Republic of Congo’ by Clément Kolopp WCS Congo