Isolated islands provide valuable opportunities to study the persistence of viruses in wildlife populations, including population size thresholds such as the critical community size. The straw-coloured fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, has been identified as a reservoir for henipaviruses (serological evidence) and Lagos bat virus (LBV; virus isolation and serological evidence) in continental Africa. Here, we sampled from a remote population of E. helvum annobonensis fruit bats on Annobón island in the Gulf of Guinea to investigate whether antibodies to these viruses also exist in this isolated subspecies. Henipavirus serological analyses (Luminex multiplexed binding and inhibition assays, virus neutralisation tests and western blots) and lyssavirus serological analyses (LBV: modified Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralisation test, LBV and Mokola virus: lentivirus pseudovirus neutralisation assay) were undertaken on 73 and 70 samples respectively. Given the isolation of fruit bats on Annobón and their lack of connectivity with other populations, it was expected that the population size on the island would be too small to allow persistence of viruses that are thought to cause acute and immunising infections. However, the presence of antibodies against henipaviruses was detected using the Luminex binding assay and confirmed using alternative assays. Neutralising antibodies to LBV were detected in one bat using both assays. We demonstrate clear evidence for exposure of multiple individuals to henipaviruses in this remote population of E. helvum annobonensis fruit bats on Annobón island. The situation is less clear for LBV. Seroprevalences to henipaviruses and LBV in Annobón are notably different to those in E. helvum in continental locations studied using the same sampling techniques and assays. Whilst cross-sectional serological studies in wildlife populations cannot provide details on viral dynamics within populations, valuable information on the presence or absence of viruses may be obtained and utilised for informing future studies.
During lyssavirus surveillance, 1,221 bats of at least 30 species were collected from 25 locations in Kenya. One isolate of Lagos bat virus (LBV) was obtained from a dead Eidolon helvum fruit bat. The virus was most similar phylogenetically to LBV isolates from Senegal (1985) and from France (imported from Togo or Egypt; 1999), sharing with these viruses 100% nucleoprotein identity and 99.8 to 100% glycoprotein identity. This genome conservancy across space and time suggests that LBV is well adapted to its natural host species and that populations of reservoir hosts in eastern and western Africa have sufficient interactions to share pathogens. High virus concentrations, in addition to being detected in the brain, were detected in the salivary glands and tongue and in an oral swab, suggesting that LBV is transmitted in the saliva. In other extraneural organs, the virus was generally associated with innervations and ganglia. The presence of infectious virus in the reproductive tract and in a vaginal swab implies an alternative opportunity for transmission. The isolate was pathogenic for laboratory mice by the intracerebral and intramuscular routes. Serologic screening demonstrated the presence of LBV-neutralizing antibodies in E. helvum and Rousettus aegyptiacus fruit bats. In different colonies the seroprevalence ranged from 40 to 67% and 29 to 46% for E. helvum and R. aegyptiacus, respectively. Nested reverse transcription-PCR did not reveal the presence of viral RNA in oral swabs of bats in the absence of brain infection. Several large bat roosts were identified in areas of dense human populations, raising public health concerns for the potential of lyssavirus infection.
Henipaviruses (Hendra and Nipah virus) are highly pathogenic members of the family Paramyxoviridae. Fruit-eating bats of the Pteropus genus have been suggested as their natural reservoir. Human Henipavirus infections have been reported in a region extending from Australia via Malaysia into Bangladesh, compatible with the geographic range of Pteropus. These bats do not occur in continental Africa, but a whole range of other fruit bats is encountered. One of the most abundant is Eidolon helvum, the African Straw-coloured fruit bat.
Feces from E. helvum roosting in an urban setting in Kumasi/Ghana were tested for Henipavirus RNA. Sequences of three novel viruses in phylogenetic relationship to known Henipaviruses were detected. Virus RNA concentrations in feces were low.
The finding of novel putative Henipaviruses outside Australia and Asia contributes a significant extension of the region of potential endemicity of one of the most pathogenic virus genera known in humans.
Bats, a globally distributed group of mammals with high ecological importance, are increasingly recognized as natural reservoir hosts for viral agents of significance to human and animal health. In the present study, we evaluated pools of blood samples obtained from two phylogenetically distant bat families, in particular from flying foxes (Pteropodidae), Eidolon helvum in West Africa, and from two species of New World leaf-nosed fruit bats (Phyllostomidae), Artibeus jamaicensis and Artibeus lituratus in Central America. A sequence-independent virus discovery technique (VIDISCA) was used in combination with high throughput sequencing to detect two novel parvoviruses: a PARV4-like virus named Eh-BtPV-1 in Eidolon helvum from Ghana and the first member of a putative new genus in Artibeus jamaicensis from Panama (Aj-BtPV-1). Those viruses were circulating in the corresponding bat colony at rates of 7–8%. Aj-BtPV-1 was also found in Artibeus lituratus (5.5%). Both viruses were detected in the blood of infected animals at high concentrations: up to 10E8 and to 10E10 copies/ml for Aj-BtPV-1 and Eh-BtPV-1 respectively. Eh-BtPV-1 was additionally detected in all organs collected from bats (brain, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys and intestine) and spleen and kidneys were identified as the most likely sites where viral replication takes place. Our study shows that bat parvoviruses share common ancestors with known parvoviruses of humans and livestock. We also provide evidence that a variety of Parvovirinae are able to cause active infection in bats and that they are widely distributed in these animals with different geographic origin, ecologies and climatic ranges.
Infection with Ebola virus (EBOV) causes hemorrhagic fever in humans with high case-fatality rates. The EBOV-glycoprotein (EBOV-GP) facilitates viral entry and promotes viral release from human cells. African fruit bats are believed not to develop disease upon EBOV infection and have been proposed as a natural reservoir of EBOV. We compared EBOV-GP interactions with human cells and cells from African fruit bats. We found that susceptibility to EBOV-GP–dependent infection was not limited to bat cells from potential reservoir species, and we observed that GP displayed similar biological properties in human and bat cells. The only exception was GP localization, which was to a greater extent intracellular in bat cells as compared to human cells. Collectively, our results suggest that GP interactions with fruit bat and human cells are similar and do not limit EBOV tropism for certain bat species.
Henipaviruses, Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV), have Pteropid bats as their known natural reservoirs. Antibodies against henipaviruses have been found in Eidolon helvum, an old world fruit bat species, and henipavirus-like nucleic acid has been detected in faecal samples from E. helvum in Ghana. The initial outbreak of NiV in Malaysia led to over 265 human encephalitis cases, including 105 deaths, with infected pigs acting as amplifier hosts for NiV during the outbreak. We detected non-neutralizing antibodies against viruses of the genus Henipavirus in approximately 5% of pig sera (N = 97) tested in Ghana, but not in a small sample of other domestic species sampled under a E. helvum roost. Although we did not detect neutralizing antibody, our results suggest prior exposure of the Ghana pig population to henipavirus(es). Because a wide diversity of henipavirus-like nucleic acid sequences have been found in Ghanaian E. helvum, we hypothesise that these pigs might have been infected by henipavirus(es) sufficiently divergent enough from HeVor NiV to produce cross-reactive, but not cross-neutralizing antibodies to HeV or NiV.
Bats carry a variety of paramyxoviruses that impact human and domestic animal health when spillover occurs. Recent studies have shown a great diversity of paramyxoviruses in an urban-roosting population of straw-colored fruit bats in Ghana. Here, we investigate this further through virus isolation and describe two novel rubulaviruses: Achimota virus 1 (AchPV1) and Achimota virus 2 (AchPV2). The viruses form a phylogenetic cluster with each other and other bat-derived rubulaviruses, such as Tuhoko viruses, Menangle virus, and Tioman virus. We developed AchPV1- and AchPV2-specific serological assays and found evidence of infection with both viruses in Eidolon helvum across sub-Saharan Africa and on islands in the Gulf of Guinea. Longitudinal sampling of E. helvum indicates virus persistence within fruit bat populations and suggests spread of AchPVs via horizontal transmission. We also detected possible serological evidence of human infection with AchPV2 in Ghana and Tanzania. It is likely that clinically significant zoonotic spillover of chiropteran paramyxoviruses could be missed throughout much of Africa where health surveillance and diagnostics are poor and comorbidities, such as infection with HIV or Plasmodium sp., are common.
Eidolon helvum is widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa where it forms large, dense colonies. The species is migratory and satellite telemetry studies have demonstrated that individuals can migrate over 2,500 km. It is a common source of bush meat in West Africa and evidence of infection with potentially zoonotic viruses has been found in West African colonies. The species, therefore, is of interest to both ecologists and those interested in public health. Despite this, demographic parameters of the species are unknown. We focused our study primarily on a colony of up to 1,000,000 bats that roost in trees in Accra, Ghana to obtain estimates of birth rate and survival probability. Aging of bats by examination of tooth cementum annuli allowed use of life tables to indicate an annual survival probability for juveniles of 0.43 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.16–0.77) and for adults of 0.83 (95% CI 0.73–0.93). Additionally, an annual adult survival probability of 0.63 (95% CI 0.27–0.88) was estimated by following 98 radiocollared bats over a year; capture–recapture data were analyzed using multistate models to address the confounding factor of emigration. True survival probabilities may be in between the 2 estimates, because permanent emigration may lead to underestimation in the capture–recapture study, and population decline may lead to overestimation in the life table analysis. Birth rates (0.96 young per female per year, 95% CI 0.92–0.98) and colony size changes were also estimated. Estimation of these key parameters will allow future analyses of both infection dynamics within, and harvest sustainability of, E. helvum populations.
capture–recapture; Eidolon helvum; multistate model; population dynamics; survival; tooth cementum
Hipposideros spp. bats harbor a coronavirus that shares common ancestry with human viruses.
We tested 12 bat species in Ghana for coronavirus (CoV) RNA. The virus prevalence in insectivorous bats (n = 123) was 9.76%. CoV was not detected in 212 fecal samples from Eidolon helvum fruit bats. Leaf-nosed bats pertaining to Hipposideros ruber by morphology had group 1 and group 2 CoVs. Virus concentrations were <45,000 copies/100 mg of bat feces. The diversified group 1 CoV shared a common ancestor with the human common cold virus hCoV-229E but not with hCoV-NL63, disputing hypotheses of common human descent. The most recent common ancestor of hCoV-229E and GhanaBt-CoVGrp1 existed in ≈1686–1800 ad. The GhanaBt-CoVGrp2 shared an old ancestor (≈2,400 years) with the severe acute respiratory syndrome–like group of CoV.
Bats; coronavirus; viruses; severe acute respiratory syndrome; human coronavirus; molecular clock; Ghana; research
► We study how fruit bats are hunted and sold as bushmeat in Ghana, West Africa. ► Globally, bats are under-represented in market reviews, and threatened by hunting. ► 128,000 Eidolon helvum are sold each year in southern Ghana. ► Fruit bats do not follow the normal commodity chain for bushmeat. ► E. helvum may be missed by market surveys and threatened by this level of hunting.
Harvesting, consumption and trade of bushmeat are important causes of both biodiversity loss and potential zoonotic disease emergence. In order to identify possible ways to mitigate these threats, it is essential to improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which bushmeat gets from the site of capture to the consumer’s table. In this paper we highlight the previously unrecognized scale of hunting of the African straw-colored fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, a species which is important in both ecological and public health contexts, and describe the commodity chain in southern Ghana for its trade. Based on interviews with 551 Ghanaians, including bat hunters, vendors and consumers, we estimate that a minimum of 128,000 E. helvum bats are sold each year through a commodity chain stretching up to 400 km and involving multiple vendors. Unlike the general bushmeat trade in Ghana, where animals are sold in both specialized bushmeat markets and in restaurants, E. helvum is sold primarily in marketplaces; many bats are also kept by hunters for personal consumption. The offtake estimated in this paper raises serious conservation concerns, while the commodity chain identified in this study may offer possible points for management intervention. The separation of the E. helvum commodity chain from that of other bushmeat highlights the need for species-specific research in this area, particularly for bats, whose status as bushmeat is largely unknown.
Bushmeat hunting; Commodity chain; Ghana; Eidolon helvum; Fruit bat hunting
Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) belong to the family Filoviridae and cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. Despite the discovery of EBOV (Reston virus) in nonhuman primates and domestic pigs in the Philippines and the serological evidence for its infection of humans and fruit bats, information on the reservoirs and potential amplifying hosts for filoviruses in Asia is lacking. In this study, serum samples collected from 353 healthy Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) in Kalimantan Island, Indonesia, during the period from December 2005 to December 2006 were screened for filovirus-specific IgG antibodies using a highly sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with recombinant viral surface glycoprotein (GP) antigens derived from multiple species of filoviruses (5 EBOV and 1 MARV species). Here we show that 18.4% (65/353) and 1.7% (6/353) of the samples were seropositive for EBOV and MARV, respectively, with little cross-reactivity among EBOV and MARV antigens. In these positive samples, IgG antibodies to viral internal proteins were also detected by immunoblotting. Interestingly, while the specificity for Reston virus, which has been recognized as an Asian filovirus, was the highest in only 1.4% (5/353) of the serum samples, the majority of EBOV-positive sera showed specificity to Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, or Bundibugyo viruses, all of which have been found so far only in Africa. These results suggest the existence of multiple species of filoviruses or unknown filovirus-related viruses in Indonesia, some of which are serologically similar to African EBOVs, and transmission of the viruses from yet unidentified reservoir hosts into the orangutan populations. Our findings point to the need for risk assessment and continued surveillance of filovirus infection of human and nonhuman primates, as well as wild and domestic animals, in Asia.
Ebola viruses (EBOV) cause often fatal hemorrhagic fever in several species of simian primates including human. While fruit bats are considered natural reservoir, involvement of other species in EBOV transmission is unclear. In 2009, Reston-EBOV was the first EBOV detected in swine with indicated transmission to humans. In-contact transmission of Zaire-EBOV (ZEBOV) between pigs was demonstrated experimentally. Here we show ZEBOV transmission from pigs to cynomolgus macaques without direct contact. Interestingly, transmission between macaques in similar housing conditions was never observed. Piglets inoculated oro-nasally with ZEBOV were transferred to the room housing macaques in an open inaccessible cage system. All macaques became infected. Infectious virus was detected in oro-nasal swabs of piglets, and in blood, swabs, and tissues of macaques. This is the first report of experimental interspecies virus transmission, with the macaques also used as a human surrogate. Our finding may influence prevention and control measures during EBOV outbreaks.
Marburg virus (family Filoviridae) causes sporadic outbreaks of severe hemorrhagic disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Bats have been implicated as likely natural reservoir hosts based most recently on an investigation of cases among miners infected in 2007 at the Kitaka mine, Uganda, which contained a large population of Marburg virus-infected Rousettus aegyptiacus fruit bats. Described here is an ecologic investigation of Python Cave, Uganda, where an American and a Dutch tourist acquired Marburg virus infection in December 2007 and July 2008. More than 40,000 R. aegyptiacus were found in the cave and were the sole bat species present. Between August 2008 and November 2009, 1,622 bats were captured and tested for Marburg virus. Q-RT-PCR analysis of bat liver/spleen tissues indicated ∼2.5% of the bats were actively infected, seven of which yielded Marburg virus isolates. Moreover, Q-RT-PCR-positive lung, kidney, colon and reproductive tissues were found, consistent with potential for oral, urine, fecal or sexual transmission. The combined data for R. aegyptiacus tested from Python Cave and Kitaka mine indicate low level horizontal transmission throughout the year. However, Q-RT-PCR data show distinct pulses of virus infection in older juvenile bats (∼six months of age) that temporarily coincide with the peak twice-yearly birthing seasons. Retrospective analysis of historical human infections suspected to have been the result of discrete spillover events directly from nature found 83% (54/65) events occurred during these seasonal pulses in virus circulation, perhaps demonstrating periods of increased risk of human infection. The discovery of two tags at Python Cave from bats marked at Kitaka mine, together with the close genetic linkages evident between viruses detected in geographically distant locations, are consistent with R. aegyptiacus bats existing as a large meta-population with associated virus circulation over broad geographic ranges. These findings provide a basis for developing Marburg hemorrhagic fever risk reduction strategies.
Marburg virus, like its close relative Ebola virus, can cause large outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever with case fatalities nearing 90%. For decades the identity of the natural reservoir was unknown. However, in 2007 Marburg viruses were isolated directly from Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) that inhabited a Ugandan gold mine where miners were previously infected. Soon after, two tourists became infected with Marburg virus after visiting nearby Python Cave, a popular attraction in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. This cave also contained R. aegyptiacus bats (∼40,000 animals). These events prompted a long-term investigation of Python Cave to determine if, 1) R. aegyptiacus in the cave carried infectious Marburg virus genetically similar to that found in the tourists, and 2) what ecological factors might influence virus spillover to humans. In the study, we found that, 1) approximately 2.5% of the bat colony is actively infected at any one time and that virus isolates from bats are genetically similar to those from infected tourists, and 2) specific age groups of bats (juveniles∼six months of age) are particularly likely to be infected at specific times of the year that roughly coincide with historical dates of Marburg virus spillover into humans.
In July and September 2007, miners working in Kitaka Cave, Uganda, were diagnosed with Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The likely source of infection in the cave was Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) based on detection of Marburg virus RNA in 31/611 (5.1%) bats, virus-specific antibody in bat sera, and isolation of genetically diverse virus from bat tissues. The virus isolates were collected nine months apart, demonstrating long-term virus circulation. The bat colony was estimated to be over 100,000 animals using mark and re-capture methods, predicting the presence of over 5,000 virus-infected bats. The genetically diverse virus genome sequences from bats and miners closely matched. These data indicate common Egyptian fruit bats can represent a major natural reservoir and source of Marburg virus with potential for spillover into humans.
Marburg virus, similar to its close cousin Ebola virus, can cause large outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever (HF) in rural Africa with case fatalities approaching 90%. For decades, a long-standing enigma has been the identity of the natural reservoir of this deadly virus. In this report, we identify the cave-dwelling Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) as a natural host of Marburg virus based on multiple lines of evidence which include, for the first time ever, the isolation of virus directly from wild-caught and apparently healthy bats. The species R. aegyptiacus is common throughout Africa with distribution into the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Our finding of active virus infection in approximately 5% of R. aegyptiacus bats and their population exceeding 100,000 in Kitaka cave in Uganda suggests there are likely over 5,000 Marburg virus–infected bats in this cave, which is only one of many such cave populations throughout Africa. Clearly, these bats could serve as a major source of virus with potential to initiate human epidemics, and the implications for public health are striking. Additionally, we found highly divergent (21%) genome sequences among viruses circulating in these bat populations, a level of diversity that would result from a long-term association with a suitable reservoir host of large population size.
TOC summary: Bats may be reservoirs of zoonotic viruses that threaten human health.
Bats are known reservoirs of viral zoonoses. We report genetic characterization of a bat rotavirus (Bat/KE4852/07) detected in the feces of a straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum). Six bat rotavirus genes (viral protein [VP] 2, VP6, VP7, nonstructural protein [NSP] 2, NSP3, and NSP5) shared ancestry with other mammalian rotaviruses but were distantly related. The VP4 gene was nearly identical to that of human P rotavirus strains, and the NSP4 gene was closely related to those of previously described mammalian rotaviruses, including human strains. Analysis of partial sequence of the VP1 gene indicated that it was distinct from cognate genes of other rotaviruses. No sequences were obtained for the VP3 and NSP1 genes of the bat rotavirus. This rotavirus was designated G25-P-I15-R8(provisional)-C8-Mx-Ax-N8-T11-E2-H10. Results suggest that several reassortment events have occurred between human, animal, and bat rotaviruses. Several additional rotavirus strains were detected in bats.
Straw-colored fruit bat; Eidolon helvum; rotavirus; viruses; reassortment; heterologous genome segments; podcast; zoonoses; research
Henipaviruses are emerging RNA viruses of fruit bat origin that can cause fatal encephalitis in man. Ghanaian fruit bats (megachiroptera) were tested for antibodies to henipaviruses. Using a Luminex multiplexed microsphere assay, antibodies were detected in sera of Eidolon helvum to both Nipah (39%, 95% confidence interval: 27–51%) and Hendra (22%, 95% CI: 11–33%) viruses. Virus neutralization tests further confirmed seropositivity for 30% (7/23) of Luminex positive serum samples. Our results indicate that henipavirus is present within West Africa.
Flying foxes (Pteropodidae) are key seed dispersers on the African continent, yet their migratory behavior is largely unknown. Here, we studied the movement ecology of the straw-colored fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, and other fruit bats by analyzing stable isotope ratios in fur collected from museum specimens. In a triple-isotope approach based on samples of two ecologically similar non-migratory pteropodids, we first confirmed that a stable isotope approach is capable of delineating between geographically distinct locations in Sub-Saharan Africa. A discriminant function analysis assigned 84% of individuals correctly to their capture site. Further, we assessed how well hydrogen stable isotope ratios (δ2H) of fur keratin collected from non-migratory species (n = 191 individuals) records variation in δ2H of precipitation water in sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, we found positive, negative and no correlations within the six studied species. We then developed a reduced major axis regression equation based on individual data of non-migratory species to predict where potentially migratory E. helvum (n = 88) would come from based on their keratin δ2H. Across non-migratory species, δ2H of keratin and local water correlated positively. Based on the isoscape origin model, 22% of E. helvum were migratory, i.e. individuals had migrated over at least 250 km prior to their capture. Migratory individuals came from locations at a median distance of about 860 km from the collection site, four even from distances of at least 2,000 km. Ground-truthing of our isoscape origin model based on keratin δ2H of extant E. helvum (n = 76) supported a high predictive power of assigning the provenance of African flying foxes. Our study highlights that stable isotope ratios can be used to explain the migratory behavior of flying foxes, even on the isotopically relatively homogenous African continent, and with material collected by museums many decades or more than a century ago.
Viral emergence as a result of zoonotic transmission constitutes a continuous public health threat. Emerging viruses such as SARS coronavirus, hantaviruses and henipaviruses have wildlife reservoirs. Characterising the viruses of candidate reservoir species in geographical hot spots for viral emergence is a sensible approach to develop tools to predict, prevent, or contain emergence events. Here, we explore the viruses of Eidolon helvum, an Old World fruit bat species widely distributed in Africa that lives in close proximity to humans. We identified a great abundance and diversity of novel herpes and papillomaviruses, described the isolation of a novel adenovirus, and detected, for the first time, sequences of a chiropteran poxvirus closely related with Molluscum contagiosum. In sum, E. helvum display a wide variety of mammalian viruses, some of them genetically similar to known human pathogens, highlighting the possibility of zoonotic transmission.
•The first metagenomic study of a chiropteran (bat) suborder.•Demonstrates a novel and thorough bioinformatics pipeline for metagenomic studies.•Multiple novel, diverse viruses present in an urban African bat bushmeat species.•The study is supported with further molecular evidence and virus isolation.•The study contains the first evidence of chiropteran poxviruses and a novel bat adenovirus isolate.
Virome; Bat; Megabat; Poxvirus; Viral emergence; Metagenomics; Adenovirus
Bats (Chiroptera) are one of the most diverse groups of mammals which carry out important ecological and agricultural functions that are beneficial to humans. However, they are increasingly recognized as natural vectors for a number of zoonotic pathogens and favourable hosts for zoonotic infections. Large populations of the Straw-Coloured Fruit Bat (Eidolon helvum) colonize the main campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, but the public health implications of faecal contamination and pollution by these flying mammals is unknown. This study characterized S. aureus obtained from faecal samples of these migratory mammals with a view to determining the clonal types of the isolates, and to investigate the possibility of these flying animals as potential reservoir for zoonotic S. aureus infections.
One hundred and seven (107) S. aureus isolates were recovered from 560 faecal samples in eleven roosting sites from January 2008 to February 2010. A large proportion of the isolates were susceptible to antibiotics, and molecular characterization of 70 isolates showed that 65 (92.9%) were assigned in coagulase type VI, while accessory gene typing classified 69 isolates into the following: type I (12; 17.1%), type II (3; 4.3%), type III (1; 1.4%) and type IV (53; 75.7%). On the whole, the isolates were grouped in five (A-E) main genotypes. Of the ten representative isolates selected for multilocus sequence typing (MLST), nine isolates were assigned with new sequence types: ST1725, ST1726, ST1727, ST2463-ST2467 and ST2470. Phylogenetic analysis provided evidence that S. aureus isolates in group C were closely related with ST1822 and associated clones identified in African monkeys, and group D isolates with ST75, ST883 and ST1223. The two groups exhibited remarkable genetic diversity compared to the major S. aureus clade.
Antibiotic resistance in faecal S. aureus isolates of E. helvum is low and multiple unique S. aureus lineages co-existed with E. helvum. The Straw-Coloured Fruit Bat in Ile-Ife, Nigeria is colonized predominantly by ST1725, ST1726, ST2463 and ST2470 with distinct genotypic characteristics that are rarely found in humans. This study has demonstrated on the possible existence of a reservoir of indigenous and anciently-divergent S. aureus clones among mammals in Africa.
Staphylococcus aureus; Eidolon helvum; ST1725; ST1726; ST2463; ST2470; Anciently-diverged S. aureus
Bats are increasingly recognized to harbor a wide range of viruses, and in most instances these viruses appear to establish long-term persistence in these animals. They are the reservoir of a number of human zoonotic diseases including Nipah, Ebola, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. We report the identification of novel groups of astroviruses in apparently healthy insectivorous bats found in Hong Kong, in particular, bats belonging to the genera Miniopterus and Myotis. Astroviruses are important causes of diarrhea in many animal species, including humans. Many of the bat astroviruses form distinct phylogenetic clusters in the genus Mamastrovirus within the family Astroviridae. Virus detection rates of 36% to 100% and 50% to 70% were found in Miniopterus magnater and Miniopterus pusillus bats, respectively, captured within a single bat habitat during four consecutive visits spanning 1 year. There was high genetic diversity of viruses in bats found within this single habitat. Some bat astroviruses may be phylogenetically related to human astroviruses, and further studies with a wider range of bat species in different geographic locations are warranted. These findings are likely to provide new insights into the ecology and evolution of astroviruses and reinforce the role of bats as a reservoir of viruses with potential to pose a zoonotic threat to human health.
To investigate the presence of Lagos bat virus (LBV)–specific antibodies in megachiroptera from West Africa, we conducted fluorescent antibody virus neutralization tests. Neutralizing antibodies were detected in Eidolon helvum (37%), Epomophorus gambianus (3%), and Epomops buettikoferi (33%, 2/6) from Ghana. These findings confirm the presence of LBV in West Africa.
Lagos Bat Virus; rabies; megachiroptera; bat; Lyssavirus; dispatch
Bats harbor several highly pathogenic zoonotic viruses including Rabies, Marburg, and henipaviruses, without overt clinical symptoms in the animals. It has been suspected that bats might have evolved particularly effective mechanisms to suppress viral replication. Here, we investigated interferon (IFN) response, -induction, -secretion and -signaling in epithelial-like cells of the relevant and abundant African fruit bat species, Eidolon helvum (E. helvum). Immortalized cell lines were generated; their potential to induce and react on IFN was confirmed, and biological assays were adapted to application in bat cell cultures, enabling comparison of landmark IFN properties with that of common mammalian cell lines. E. helvum cells were fully capable of reacting to viral and artificial IFN stimuli. E. helvum cells showed highest IFN mRNA induction, highly productive IFN protein secretion, and evidence of efficient IFN stimulated gene induction. In an Alphavirus infection model, O'nyong-nyong virus exhibited strong IFN induction but evaded the IFN response by translational rather than transcriptional shutoff, similar to other Alphavirus infections. These novel IFN-competent cell lines will allow comparative research on zoonotic, bat-borne viruses in order to model mechanisms of viral maintenance and emergence in bat reservoirs.
One-sentence summary for table of contents: Lagos bat virus from water mongoose showed strong sequence homology with other Lagos bat virus isolates from South Africa.
A genotype 2 lyssavirus, Lagos bat virus (LBV), was isolated from a terrestrial wildlife species (water mongoose) in August 2004 in the Durban area of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. The virus isolate was confirmed as LBV by antigenic and genetic characterization, and the mongoose was identified as Atilax paludinosus by mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence analysis. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated sequence homology with previous LBV isolates from South African bats. Studies performed in mice indicated that the peripheral pathogenicity of LBV had been underestimated in previous studies. Surveillance strategies for LBV in Africa must be improved to better understand the epidemiology of this virus and to make informed decisions on future vaccine strategies because evidence is insufficent that current rabies vaccines provide protection against LBV.
Lagos bat virus; rabies; rabies-related viruses; lyssaviruses; nucleoprotein; Herpestidae; mongoose; Atilax paludinosus; South Africa; cytochrome b; pathogenesis; phylogeny; research
Passive sound-localization acuity for 100-msec noise bursts was determined behaviorally for two species of non-echolocating bats: the Straw-colored fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, a large frugivore, and the Dog-faced fruit bat, Cynopterus brachyotis, a small frugivore. The mean minimum audible angle for two E. helvum was 11.7°, and for two C. brachyotis was 10.5°. This places their passive sound-localization acuity near the middle of the range for echolocating bats as well as the middle of the range for other mammals. Sound-localization acuity varies widely among mammals, and the best predictor of this auditory function remains the width of the field of best vision (r = .89, p < .0001). Among echolocating and non-echolocating bats, as well as among other mammals, the use of hearing to direct the eyes to the source of a sound still appears to serve as an important selective factor for sound localization. Absolute visual acuity and the magnitude of the binaural locus cues available to a species remain unreliable predictors of sound-localization acuity.
Localization Acuity; Megachiroptera; Pteropodidae; Yinpterochiroptera; Echolocation; Vision; Evolution
Background and objectives
Bats are recognized as a major reservoir of lyssaviruses; however, no bat lyssavirus has been isolated in Asia except for Aravan and Khujand virus in Central Asia. All Chinese lyssavirus isolates in previous reports have been of species rabies virus, mainly from dogs. Following at least two recent bat-associated human rabies-like cases in northeast China, we have initiated a study of the prevalence of lyssaviruses in bats in Jilin province and their public health implications. A bat lyssavirus has been isolated and its pathogenicity in mice and genomic alignment have been determined.
We report the first isolation of a bat lyssavirus in China, from the brain of a northeastern bat, Murina leucogaster. Its nucleoprotein gene shared 92.4%/98.9% (nucleotide) and 92.2%/98.8% (amino acid) identity with the two known Irkut virus isolates from Russia, and was designated IRKV-THChina12. Following intracranial and intramuscular injection, IRKV-THChina12 produced rabies-like symptoms in adult mice with a short inoculation period and high mortality. Nucleotide sequence analysis showed that IRKV-THChina12 has the same genomic organization as other lyssaviruses and its isolation provides an independent origin for the species IRKV.
We have identified the existence of a bat lyssavirus in a common Chinese bat species. Its high pathogenicity in adult mice suggests that public warnings and medical education regarding bat bites in China should be increased, and that surveillance be extended to provide a better understanding of Irkut virus ecology and its significance for public health.
The Lyssavirus genus presently comprises 12 species and two unapproved species with different antigenic characteristics. Rabies virus is detectable worldwide; Lagos bat virus, Mokola virus, Duvenhage virus, Shimoni bat virus, and Ikoma lyssavirus circulate in Africa; European bat lyssavirus types 1 and 2, Irkut virus, West Caucasian bat virus, and Bokeloh bat lyssavirus are found in Europe; and Australian bat lyssavirus has been isolated in Australia. Only Aravan and Khujand viruses have been identified in central Asia. Bats are recognized as the most important reservoirs of lyssaviruses. In China, all lyssavirus isolates in previous reports have been rabies virus, mainly from dogs; none has been from bats. Recently, however, at least two bat-associated human rabies or rabies-like cases have been reported in northeast China. Therefore, we conducted a search for bat lyssaviruses in Jilin province, close to where the first bat-associated human rabies case was recorded. We isolated a bat lyssavirus, identified as an Irkut virus isolate with high pathogenicity in experimental mice. Our findings suggest that public warnings and medical education regarding bat bites in China should be increased, and that surveillance should be extended to provide a better understanding of Irkut virus ecology and its significance for public health.