A bat was found in Kópavogur, in the Reykjavík capital area, last week, RÚV reports. It was quite weak when it was found and was put down in a laboratory at the Institute for Experimental Pathology at Keldur shortly after. Bats are not native to Iceland and a veterinarian says it is unlikely they would be able to survive in the country.
Known to carry diseases
The bat was found on Smiðjavegur street in Kópavogur, according to Vilhjálmur Svansson, a veterinarian and virologist at Keldur. He stated that person who found the bat did not know where it came from. Vilhjálmur underlined that people should not touch or handle exotic animals if they come across them, especially bats. “They are of course known carriers of infectious agents and actually the most dangerous ones we know,” Vilhjálmur stated.
Bats are known to carry many types of rabies as well as Hendra viruses, which have been transmitted from bats to horses and then humans in Australia and Southeast Asia. “There are at least two, probably three deaths in Australia from these viruses that came from horses.” Bats also carry the Nipah virus, which can spread to humans, and are suspected of carrying Ebola. “And then we can mention that we’ve now been dealing with a bat virus for the last three years, SARS 2.”
Bats may arrive in shipping containers
Vilhjálmur says that one or two bats are blown to Iceland on air currents per year, but that most of the bats that arrive in the country probably do so on shipping containers. He does not believe that bats could survive in the wild in Iceland.
It is not known whether the bat found in Kópavogur carried any diseases. Samples from the animal are currently being analysed.