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The bat carcasses originated from 6 geographical regions in Germany (Berlin greater metropolitan area, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, and Baden-Wuerttemberg) and were provided by bat researchers and bat rehabilitation centers.
Most animals represented individual cases that have been found dead, injured or moribund close to roosting sites or near human habitations.
The lung was the predominantly (40.1%, n = 195) affected internal organ (Figure In the lung, the main inflammatory lesion was mild to severe interstitial pneumonia in almost 38% (n = 182) of bats, predominantly characterized by mixed neutrophilic and mononuclear infiltration of alveolar septa (87.4%, n = 159) (Figure ) and anthracosis (n = 1). Mild to segmentally severe, mainly neutrophilic infiltration of the intestinal mucosa was observed in 7% (n = 34) of bats.Pathological changes caused by infectious diseases in bats are rarely visible macroscopically and microscopy is the only way for comprehensive investigation.We established a close cooperation with bat rehabilitation centres where free-ranging moribund animals were immediately stored frozen after their death.The emergence of important viral diseases and their potential threat to humans has increased the interest in bats as potential reservoir species.Whereas the majority of studies determined the occurrence of specific zoonotic agents in chiropteran species, little is known about actual bat pathogens and impacts of disease on bat mortality.