Where do infectious diseases emerge?

Zoonosis is the transmission of disease from animals to humans. It follows a simple equation: wildlife interaction plus increasing demand plus habitat conversion is equal to zoonotic diseases.
Long-tongued nectar bat (Macroglossus minimus)

Did you know that wildlife also experience a lot of stress? Bushmeat hunting for consumption pushes several terrestrial or land-based mammal species to the brink of extinction while agitating hunted animals.

Hunting is common in developing countries across Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. Traditional medicine, pet trade, and ornamental use of body parts were also some of the reasons why wildlife and other biodiversity are hunted and collected.

Live trade for the pet industry and ornamental use of wild animals primarily occur in Africa, Latin America and in Southeast Asia.

Bushmeat is a vital source of food and income in rural areas in Southeast Asia for over 40,000 years. Increasing human population and the continuous destruction and degradation of forests and other habitats have contributed to wildlife hunting to unsustainable levels.

The demand for bushmeat increases the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans through direct contact.

What is zoonosis?

Zoonosis is the transmission of disease from animals to humans. It follows a simple equation: wildlife interaction plus increasing demand plus habitat conversion is equal to zoonotic diseases.

This risk from handling wildlife has long been acknowledged. This awareness has to lead to the development of standard practices in handling wildlife.

Wildlife professionals like biologists and fieldwork technicians are expected to follow personal protective measures, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), when handling wildlife to reduce the chances of zoonosis.

Unfortunately, the use of PPE is not observed in the informal bushmeat trading sector across Asia and Southeast Asia. Markets wherein bushmeat is sold usually do not have guidelines on how to prevent zoonosis.

Moratelli and Calisher in 2015 successfully isolated, among other viruses, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) from bats.

SARS-CoV is associated with the bushmeat industry across a wide range of host animals. The pathway of transmission of the virus involves bats as primary host followed by transmission to intermediate amplifying hosts, such as palm civets that could transfer it to humans.

MERS-CoV, on the other hand, is genetically related to SARS-CoV and also originates from bats but differs in the intermediate host being camels as a potential source of virus for humans.

 A long-tongued nectar bat (Macroglossus minimus)

Zoonosis in the Philippines

Demand for bushmeat in the Philippines makes it challenging to limit potential zoonotic transmission of viruses from bat-animal human interactions.

In Southern Luzon, civet cats and flying foxes are sold for P150 per individual (price in 2012).

These wildlife are known origins of zoonotic diseases, especially bats. Over 200 viruses have been detected or isolated from bats, including coronaviruses by Philippine scientists in just a hot-off-the press scientific journal.

While the threat to public health in the Philippines posed by viruses from bats is currently unknown, research on the subject continues to draw interest. Recent studies suggest that BtCov, or bat coronaviruses, has a widespread distribution and diversity in the Philippines.

The most recent BtCoV detected in the Philippines was discovered in Mindanao in 2020 by Nikki Tampon and her team from the University of the Philippines and Nakamura Laboratory in Japan.

Their group isolated from a local bat species called long-tongued nectar bat (Macroglossus minimus).

Tampon and her group heavily emphasized the conservation of natural habitats as a means of limiting potential zoonotic transmission by reducing bat-animal human interactions.

Their recommendations could not have come at a better time as the world faces the Covid-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 that has infected almost 24,000 and caused more than 1,000 deaths in the Philippines as of June 10.


It is important to remember that bats are not the culprit in this volatile situation. Humans are. People keep on encroaching wildlife habitats, as with the plight of Lolong, the largest crocodile in captivity.   

People should not harm bats in any way. They are pollinators of fruits that people need to improve their health.

Bats keep insects at bay, such as mosquitos and the like. Refrain from eating or patronizing bushmeat in any form.

People can also help restore wildlife habitats by supporting conservation programs like Haribon Foundation’s  “Forest for Life Movement,” a campaign to restore denuded Philippine forests using native trees.

Finally, keep wildlife in the wild. And together, we will all live in harmony.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article

Research confirms presence of PHL eagle in Zamboanga City

Next Article

Vatican negotiator: Deal with china should be renewed for ‘1 or 2 years’

Related Posts

Forest Foundation Philippines Scales Up Grant Program and Launches 2023 – 2026 Results Framework in Celebration of the International Day of the Forest

In celebration of the International Day of the Forest, Forest Foundation Philippines announced that it will scale up its grant program through its 2023 – 2026 Results Framework. The new framework aims to enable a holistic and transdisciplinary approach to forest protection, restoration, and conservation in the Philippines.

Read more

Oil spill takes toll on biodiversity

Warning: Attempt to read property "post_title" on null in /www/businessmirror_145/public/wp-content/plugins/better-image-credits/better-image-credits.php on line 227

The sinking of MT Princess Empress off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, on February 28 has caused a massive oil spill reminiscent of the 2006 Guimaras oil spill.