Bat Health Foundation

a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization



Mission Statement:

The mission of Bat Health Foundation is to generate and synthesize data related to bat health to be made freely available and serve as a resource for scientists, medical professionals, and animal health specialists, as well as to provide solutions to protect human, bat, and environmental health.

Vision Statement:

The vision of Bat Health Foundation is to synergistically protect the well-being of humans, bats and the ecosystems we share.

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About Bat Health Foundation:

While bats have been incriminated as hosts for deadly viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), the original SARS-CoV, Nipah virus, and Ebola virus, they are critical to environmental health. There are more than 1400 species of bats around the world, filling a variety of ecological niches and providing vital ecosystem services, including — pollination, seed dispersal, and control of crop pests.

Human encroachment has been shown to disrupt the balance of ecosystems, damaging the well-being of the plants and animals that live within them. However, because monitoring efforts are underfunded and under prioritized, it is unclear exactly how these processes directly influence bat health. This is a significant problem since standard ‘healthy’ parameters must be established before diseased populations can be identified. This results in scientists trying to define the complex physiology of disease as well as the mechanisms by which bats appear to sustain viral infections with minimal disease — without first having a thorough knowledge of what a ‘normal’, healthy bat looks like.

Bat Health Foundation, a newly established 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded by two veterinarians to begin answering these questions. By collecting and generating baseline health parameters, we can begin creating solutions that protect the well-being of humans, bats and the ecosystems we share. We understand that if we can more rapidly identify deviations from a healthy baseline, we can more quickly design intervention strategies. By mitigating harmful impacts on bat populations, we can also prevent disease exchange between bats and humans. In this way, monitoring the well-being of bats not only maintains the integrity of these ecosystems and the species living in them, but helps to safeguard human health.

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Characterizing normal health parameters in bats will allow us to:

  • Characterize the specific ways bats maintain viral infection with minimal morbidity as a means to better understand the processes that cause severe disease in humans.
  • Understand disease processes on both an individual animal and colony (population) level. If we first define a healthy baseline, we can then identify unhealthy and at-risk animals (and populations) to target for disease prevention and treatment, ultimately aiding in conservation efforts.
  • Compare populations of the same species in different environments (e.g. urban vs. undisturbed) to identify differences in health. These studies will help define the impact of human encroachment on bat populations and further elucidate the stressors that may drive disease transmission at the bat-human interface.
  • Promote and safeguard the health of bat populations, which will improve environmental health due to the critical ecosystem services bats provide to the world.
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ash & anna

Drs. Anna Fagre (left) and Ashley Malmlov (right) were both in veterinary school at Colorado State University when bat research began garnering more attention owing to outbreaks of viruses associated with bats, in addition to the devastating expansion of white nose syndrome in North America. Both of them wildlife enthusiasts since early childhood, their interests were piqued by bats and their interactions with humans, domestic animals, and other wildlife.

Conducting veterinary work and research at the bat-human interface seemed a clear way in which to help mitigate the risk of cross-species disease transmission to promote the health of both humans and animals. As such, both veterinarians continued on in their academic training, completing residencies in veterinary diagnostic microbiology and PhDs independently focused on bat biology in correlation with zoonotic spillover. As licensed veterinarians and infectious disease specialists, they apply their training in clinical medicine and laboratory techniques to answer questions about bat health and physiology. Their scientific networks span many disciplines, allowing them to objectively identify critical gaps in bat research and then work with other scientists, medical professionals, and animal health specialists to catalyze innovative cross-scale solutions to the complex where they may be of service.

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