Japanese universities continued its long-time collaboration with the UPLB College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the UPLB Museum of Natural History (MNH) to investigate the presence of zoonotic viruses in Philippine bats in a fieldwork held last 24-27 January 2019 at the foot of Mt. Isarog as well as the secondary-growth forest in Mt. Isarog National Park in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Japanese researchers included Professor Shigeru Kuwa and Ms. Yuki Sugiura (The University of Tokyo), Professor Kentaro Kato and Dr. Frances Recuenco (Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine), Professors Yumi Une and Shumpei Watanabe (Okayama University of Science) and Professor Tsutomu Omatsu and Satoko Sugimoto (Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology).

Dr. Joseph Masangkay of the College of Veterinary Science, Prof. Phillip A. Alviola of the Institute of Biological Sciences, who both are curators of the UPLB MNH served as country collaborators while MNH personnel Edison A. Cosico, Ariel R. Larona, David Emmanuel M. General and Florante A. Cruz served as field personnel.

The research team led by Prof. Kuwa and Dr. Masangkay has been investigating viruses in bats since 2007 and has done collections in UP Diliman, Quezon City; Mt. Makiling and UP Los Banos, Laguna; Talikud and Samal Islands in Davao Oriental; Malay, Aklan; Atimonan, Pagbilao, and Polillo Islands in Quezon; and Mabini, Pangasinan.

The Philippines has more than 70 identified species of fruit- and insect-eating bats. It has been established that they are potential reservoir for emerging diseases since they are capable of transmitting zoonotic viral diseases. Hence, monitoring bat viruses is important to detect novel bat-borne infectious diseases.

Some of the group's early results have shown that Philippine bats can be sources of the Yokose virus and bat coronavirus. Aside from discovering a novel gammaherpesvirus in 2013, the team has also recently found that the protozoans Cryptosporidium and Eimeria are also carried by Philippine bats.


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