Vespertilio Spillover is a moving images materializing from a woodcut depicting cat-bats in a rare book written by the German scientist Athanasius Kircher (*1602 / +1680) illustrating China in comparison with the actual context of the Covid-19 insurgence, including the spillover infection phenomenon and its potential causes. THIS FILM IS DEDICATED TO ALL VICTIMS - R.I.P.
Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit polymath who lived in Rome, wrote in 1658 "Scrutinum Pestis physico-medicum" on the bubonic plague also known as the legionnaire's disease. This was carried by German soldateska in the Italian peninsula, and even if his thesis about the spontaneous generation of living animals from non-living matter was wrong, he was arguably the first to conduct microscopic observations on tissues and blood of the sick, concluding the disease was caused by micro-organisms. Thereon, he proposed the use of face-masks to prevent the inhalation of infectious agents.
One of his major fields of interest was sinology: without ever visiting China he left indeed a telling account of the country's cultural landscapes.
350 years later, with the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, Athanasius would have seen a different China. But the subject of the new Coronavirus pandemic remains the same: virus hosting animals. Now, we can only hope that one day the virus returns to its original host.
Unlike than reported on Wikipedia - where Kircher’s discovery is not quoted, perhaps considered too much a fantasy creation - it was very much him who firstly accounted a new superspreader within his encyclopedic work "China monumentis", naming a species of Chineses bats by genus name, Vespertiliones, later on in the taxonomic order categorized as „Vespertilio sinensis“. «Catti Volantes nil aliud sunt quàm praegrandes Vespertiliones». So he swore to have seen in China a tremendous amount of the exotic specimen „Catti volantes“ - afterward nothing else than a species of bats.
It is hazardous to believe that traditions always fit in a modern world, where development isn't automatically advancement.
Kircher already then wrote about „pueri serpentìvori“, snake eating children among mountains. Today's ongoing urbanization,
environmental pollution of fragile ecosystems, and destruction of natural habitats may be only a few of the reasons for the actual pandemic.
The consumption of bushmeat and exotic venison and therefore the request at the wet market is even rising and trading with wildlife animals could have been an important trigger point. Athanasius would have been also very fascinated by the infected New York Tiger.
But, despite recommending for healing from snake bites powder from "snakestones", „Lapide serpentorum“, an antique name for fossils because of their resemblance, he would have been surprised by snakes on postmodern menus. It is not just about a conspiracy in a laboratory but more about behaviors.
One-time physicians Li Shizhen and Sun Simiao already insisted centuries ago that the meat of pangolins can cause serious health issues. Not only social distancing but also a change in these attitudes are necessary. Because Covid-19 may not only cause an illness to multiple organs following a lonely death, the virus questions also it‘s treatment methods. Besides isolation and quarantine allopathic medicine nearly failed to provide any kind of efficient therapy. Therefore the calls are open for the next super weapon - the vaccine, which bears high risks scenarios. But in the end, will the medication even cure the wounds of our injured society slave of cultural oblivion, manipulated by market logic and led by trivial common sense or only its‘ symptoms?