Could Climate Change Help Hendra Virus Spread?

Researchers say climate change could send Hendra-infected bats farther south and in contact with new local horse populations in Australia’s southern coastal regions and inland territories.
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hendra virus
Where the virus will be located in the future depends on the locations of four relevant species: humans, horses, and two types of flying fox bats. And between now and, say, 2050, their location—and, thus, that of Hendra—could depend largely on climate change. | Photo: iStock

The deadly Hendra virus (Henipavirus) currently threatens a very restrained area of the world—specifically, the northeastern coastal regions of Australia in Queensland and northern New South Wales. But in the coming decades, that area could become less restrained, researchers say.

Where the virus will be located in the future depends on the locations of four relevant species: humans, horses, and two types of flying fox bats. And between now and, say, 2050, their location—and, thus, that of Hendra—could depend largely on climate change.

An international team of scientists says climate change could send Hendra-infected bats farther south and in contact with new local horse populations and humans in the southern coastal regions of Australia, as well as into the country’s inland territories

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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