Officials from the Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity under the agriculture ministry’s Forestry Administration (FA) have collected 197 samples from bats in Stung Treng province’s Thala Barivat district and sent to the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia (IPC), where they will be examined for pathogens and other diseases.

Ministry spokeswoman Im Rachna confirmed to The Post that the samples were collected from May 2 to 8 and referred to the IPC on May 11.

“This will allow the laboratory technicians to assess the risk of infection to humans and study the pathogenesis of any diseases that are detected. This will help us determine measures that will prevent the spread of diseases from animals to humans and vice versa,” she said.

“Pasteur will keep the samples in isolation for 14 day before testing begins. It may be as long as two months before we receive the results,” she noted.

Rachna explained that nets were deployed to capture the flying mammals, and that samples were checked every five minutes to ensure that few animals were able to strangle themselves in the nets and die. Samples were taken from both live and dead bats, and their weight and other measurements were also recorded.

“Our officers used thick gloves to handle the bats, and each one was placed into an individual cloth bag. As soon as the samples were taken, the bats were released to return to their homes,” she said.

She added that samples of saliva, urine, feces, or lice – as well as a blood sample – were taken from live animals. Autopsies were carried out on the deceased animals, and samples were taken from their internal organs.