Project  TICOV

Transmission of coronaviruses at the interface between bats and humans in Reunion Island

By focusing on the transmission of coronaviruses at the interface between bats and the Réunion population, this project aims to provide knowledge to better address health issues, biodiversity protection, and territorial planning.

Conflicts between humans and bats are long-standing and today result in situations posing risks for both the conservation of wild animals and the health of human populations living nearby. In Reunion Island, the free-tailed bat (Mormopterus francoismoutoui), an insectivorous bat species, appears to benefit from the increasing urbanization of the island by colonizing various types of human structures (bridges, dwellings, electrical transformers, etc.), some of which are in close proximity to the population (schools, churches, airport, etc.). This cohabitation between bats and humans is problematic on several levels. On one hand, the species has proven negative impacts, notably due to the olfactory nuisances generated by its presence and the damage caused by the accumulation of guano. On the other hand, the Reunion free-tailed bat could have other impacts: it is a reservoir of infectious agents whose potential for transmission to humans remains undetermined. Finally, as the Reunion free-tailed bat is the only strictly endemic animal species on Reunion Island, it is also considered to have significant heritage value. In this context, coordinating the protection of the Little Brown Bat, an emblematic species, while taking into account the health risk it represents, is a real challenge for stakeholders in territorial planning, conservation, and health.

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Project duration : Jan 2023 - April 2026
Geographical area : Reunion Island
Funding : ANSES (Programme National de Recherche Environnement-Santé-Travail)
Global budget : 199 k€
Amount for PIMIT : 169 k€
PIMIT coordinator : Camille LEBARBENCHON (PI)
Partners :
UMR Espaces et Sociétés (ESO; CNRS, Université Rennes 2)
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