The diversity of bat species and some of their distinct biological and ecological characteristics contribute to their wide distribution, being generally abundant and common in a variety of habitats, factors that can influence their association with different emerging and reemerging viruses. Studies have shown that bats have characteristics which contribute to the evolution of a unique set of antiviral immune responses that control the replication of viruses, such as their gregarious social organization and ability to fly. In this paper we review the incidence of viruses in Neotropical bats, and the role of species as hosts or vectors of these diseases. A total of 110 species belonging to seven families were found to have been detected carrying virus in the region. Although Chiroptera is the second most diverse order of mammals, the diversity of bat-hosted viruses has only recently come into focus, as the result of improved wildlife surveillance. Diverse viruses have been detected in bats, however, in the majority of the cases, there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted from bats to other animals or causes disease in humans.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2