Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the world as we know it is almost certainly going to end. Scientists have found evidence of flu in bats and are reporting the existence of a "never-before-seen virus whose risk to humans is unclear," which is almost exactly how the devastating virus in the movie Contagion is billed.
The virus in Contagion also starts with a bat. And I don't mean to spoil everything for you, but at the end of Contagion, something like 26 million people are dead worldwide.
The AP reports that a CDC outpost in Guatemala discovered what researchers are calling the "genetic material of a flu virus" in "the intestines of little yellow-shouldered bats" called Sturnira lilium (pictured above). Researchers think the virus has been growing for years:
Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety. Scientists haven't even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.
But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the global flu epidemic movie "Contagion."
These bats eat fruit and insects but don't bite people. Yet it's possible they could leave the virus on produce and a human could get infected by taking a bite.
Christ. It's been real, humanity.
But let's not panic yet, OK? Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays "patient zero" in Contagion, is still alive. She was at the Oscars on Sunday night, and she did not look like someone suffering from a racking cough and brain hemorrhages. She was hanging out with Steve Martin and Martin Short and loving her life! As long as GOOP does not have the bat flu, we can remain calm.
That's right: The hope of the human race now lies in Gwyneth Paltrow.