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Uruguayan Grantee Germán Botto Playing a Key Role in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Germán Botto joined the Bozeman Disease Ecology Lab at Montana State University in 2016 on a Fulbright Scholarship with ANII, to pursue a PhD in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. His dissertation on the dynamics of bovine paralytic rabies transmitted by vampire bats in Uruguay works as a model system to understand the effect of environmental changes on the health of bat populations and how that affects the potential for spillover of zoonotic diseases. More recently he also started using non-pathogenic viruses to track bat contact across colonies, both in Uruguay and Belize. The lab’s work focuses on several bat systems around the world where bats’ health is affected by human pressure on the environment and is ultimately related to emergence of infectious diseases. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lab efforts turned to support modelling efforts by local authorities in Montana, and Germán also turned into developing modeling approaches for the epidemics in Uruguay. The international cooperation and comparison of data from both hemispheres can provide new insights on the dynamics of the disease and prospects to manage the pandemic.