Bat Hunting and Bat-Human Interactions in Bangladeshi Villages: Implications for Zoonotic Disease Transmission and Bat Conservation
Bats are an important reservoir for emerging zoonotic pathogens. Close human-bat interactions, including the sharing of living spaces and hunting and butchering of bats for food and medicines, may lead to spillover of zoonotic disease into human populations. We used bat exposure and environmental data gathered from 207 Bangladeshi villages to characterize bat exposures and hunting in Bangladesh. Eleven percent of households reported having a bat roost near their homes, 65% reported seeing bats flying over their households at dusk, and 31% reported seeing bats inside their compounds or courtyard areas. Twenty percent of households reported that members had at least daily exposure to bats. Bat hunting occurred in 49% of the villages surveyed and was more likely to occur in households that reported nearby bat roosts (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.9) and villages located in north-west (aPR 7.5, 95% CI 2.5-23.0) and south-west (aPR 6.8, 95% CI 2.1-21.6) regions. Our results suggest high exposure to bats and widespread hunting throughout Bangladesh. This has implications for both zoonotic disease spillover and bat conservation.
Keywords: Pteropus giganteus; bats; conservation; human-bat interactions; hunting; zoonotic disease.
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