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1.  Susceptibility and Pathogenesis of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) to Heterologous and Homologous Rabies Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(16):9008-9015.
Rabies virus (RABV) maintenance in bats is not well understood. Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), and Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are the most common bats species in the United States. These colonial bat species also have the most frequent contact with humans and domestic animals. However, the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) RABV is associated with the majority of human rabies virus infections in the United States and Canada. This is of interest because silver-haired bats are more solitary bats with infrequent human interaction. Our goal was to determine the likelihood of a colonial bat species becoming infected with and transmitting a heterologous RABV. To ascertain the potential of heterologous RABV infection in colonial bat species, little brown bats were inoculated with a homologous RABV or one of two heterologous RABVs. Additionally, to determine if the route of exposure influenced the disease process, bats were inoculated either intramuscularly (i.m.) or subcutaneously (s.c.) with a homologous or heterologous RABV. Our results demonstrate that intramuscular inoculation results in a more rapid progression of disease onset, whereas the incubation time in bats inoculated s.c. is significantly longer. Additionally, cross protection was not consistently achieved in bats previously inoculated with a heterologous RABV following a challenge with a homologous RABV 6 months later. Finally, bats that developed rabies following s.c. inoculation were significantly more likely to shed virus in their saliva and demonstrated increased viral dissemination. In summary, bats inoculated via the s.c. route are more likely to shed virus, thus increasing the likelihood of transmission.
PMCID: PMC3754046  PMID: 23741002
2.  Climate and Weather Impact Timing of Emergence of Bats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42737.
Interest in forecasting impacts of climate change have heightened attention in recent decades to how animals respond to variation in climate and weather patterns. One difficulty in determining animal response to climate variation is lack of long-term datasets that record animal behaviors over decadal scales. We used radar observations from the national NEXRAD network of Doppler weather radars to measure how group behavior in a colonially-roosting bat species responded to annual variation in climate and daily variation in weather over the past 11 years. Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) form dense aggregations in cave roosts in Texas. These bats emerge from caves daily to forage at high altitudes, which makes them detectable with Doppler weather radars. Timing of emergence in bats is often viewed as an adaptive trade-off between emerging early and risking predation or increased competition and emerging late which restricts foraging opportunities. We used timing of emergence from five maternity colonies of Brazilian free-tailed bats in south-central Texas during the peak lactation period (15 June–15 July) to determine whether emergence behavior was associated with summer drought conditions and daily temperatures. Bats emerged significantly earlier during years with extreme drought conditions than during moist years. Bats emerged later on days with high surface temperatures in both dry and moist years, but there was no relationship between surface temperatures and timing of emergence in summers with normal moisture levels. We conclude that emergence behavior is a flexible animal response to climate and weather conditions and may be a useful indicator for monitoring animal response to long-term shifts in climate.
PMCID: PMC3411708  PMID: 22876331
3.  Enzootic and Epizootic Rabies Associated with Vampire Bats, Peru 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(9):1463-1469.
During the past decade, incidence of human infection with rabies virus (RABV) spread by the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) increased considerably in South America, especially in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, where these bats commonly feed on humans. To better understand the epizootiology of rabies associated with vampire bats, we used complete sequences of the nucleoprotein gene to infer phylogenetic relationships among 157 RABV isolates collected from humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, including bats, in Peru during 2002–2007. This analysis revealed distinct geographic structuring that indicates that RABVs spread gradually and involve different vampire bat subpopulations with different transmission cycles. Three putative new RABV lineages were found in 3 non–vampire bat species that may represent new virus reservoirs. Detection of novel RABV variants and accurate identification of reservoir hosts are critically important for the prevention and control of potential virus transmission, especially to humans.
PMCID: PMC3810916
rabies; molecular epidemiology; bats; Peru; viruses; zoonoses; vampire bats
4.  Chemically-Mediated Roostmate Recognition and Roost Selection by Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7781.
The Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is an exceptionally social and gregarious species of chiropteran known to roost in assemblages that can number in the millions. Chemical recognition of roostmates within these assemblages has not been extensively studied despite the fact that an ability to chemically recognize individuals could play an important role in forming and stabilizing complex suites of social interactions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Individual bats were given a choice between three roosting pouches: one permeated with the scent of a group of roostmates, one permeated with the scent of non-roostmates, and a clean control. Subjects rejected non-roostmate pouches with greater frequency than roostmate pouches or blank control pouches. Also, bats chose to roost in the roostmate scented pouches more often than the non-roostmate or control pouches.
We demonstrated that T. brasiliensis has the ability to chemically recognize roostmates from non-roostmates and a preference for roosting in areas occupied by roostmates. It is important to investigate these behaviors because of their potential importance in colony dynamics and roost choice.
PMCID: PMC2770117  PMID: 19901986
5.  Thermal Windows on Brazilian Free-tailed Bats Facilitate Thermoregulation during Prolonged Flight 
The Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) experiences challenging thermal conditions while roosting in hot caves, flying during warm daylight conditions, and foraging at cool high altitudes. Using thermal infrared cameras, we identified hot spots along the flanks of free-ranging Brazilian free-tailed bats, ventral to the extended wings. These hot spots are absent in syntopic cave myotis (Myotis velifer), a species that forages over relatively short distances, and does not engage in long-distance migration. We hypothesized that the hot spots, or “radiators,” on Brazilian free-tailed bats may be adaptations for migration, particularly in this long-distance, high-flying species. We examined the vasculature of radiators on Brazilian free-tailed bats with transillumination to characterize the unique arrangements of arteries and veins that are positioned perpendicular to the body in the proximal region of the wing. We hypothesized that these radiators aid in maintaining heat balance by flushing the uninsulated thermal window with warm blood, thereby dissipating heat while bats are flying under warm conditions, but shunting blood away and conserving heat when they are flying in cooler air at high altitudes. We also examined fluid-preserved specimens representing 122 species from 15 of 18 chiropteran families and radiators appeared present only in species in the family Molossidae, including both sedentary and migratory species and subspecies. Thus, the radiator appears to be a unique trait that may facilitate energy balance and water balance during sustained dispersal, foraging, and long-distance migration.
PMCID: PMC2931312  PMID: 20811514
6.  Rabies Virus Infection in Eptesicus fuscus Bats Born in Captivity (Naïve Bats) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64808.
The study of rabies virus infection in bats can be challenging due to quarantine requirements, husbandry concerns, genetic differences among animals, and lack of medical history. To date, all rabies virus (RABV) studies in bats have been performed in wild caught animals. Determining the RABV exposure history of a wild caught bat based on the presence or absence of viral neutralizing antibodies (VNA) may be misleading. Previous studies have demonstrated that the presence of VNA following natural or experimental inoculation is often ephemeral. With this knowledge, it is difficult to determine if a seronegative, wild caught bat has been previously exposed to RABV. The influence of prior rabies exposure in healthy, wild caught bats is unknown. To investigate the pathogenesis of RABV infection in bats born in captivity (naïve bats), naïve bats were inoculated intramuscularly with one of two Eptesicus fuscus rabies virus variants, EfV1 or EfV2. To determine the host response to a heterologous RABV, a separate group of naïve bats were inoculated with a Lasionycteris noctivagans RABV (LnV1). Six months following the first inoculation, all bats were challenged with EfV2. Our results indicate that naïve bats may have some level of innate resistance to intramuscular RABV inoculation. Additionally, naïve bats inoculated with the LnV demonstrated the lowest clinical infection rate of all groups. However, primary inoculation with EfV1 or LnV did not appear to be protective against a challenge with the more pathogenic EfV2.
PMCID: PMC3669413  PMID: 23741396
7.  Host immunity to repeated rabies virus infection in big brown bats 
The Journal of General Virology  2010;91(Pt 9):2360-2366.
Bats are natural reservoirs for the majority of lyssaviruses globally, and are unique among mammals in having exceptional sociality and longevity. Given these facets, and the recognized status of bats as reservoirs for rabies viruses (RABVs) in the Americas, individual bats may experience repeated exposure to RABV during their lifetime. Nevertheless, little information exists with regard to within-host infection dynamics and the role of immunological memory that may result from abortive RABV infection in bats. In this study, a cohort of big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) was infected intramuscularly in the left and right masseter muscles with varying doses [10−0.1–104.9 median mouse intracerebral lethal doses (MICLD50)] of an E. fuscus RABV variant isolated from a naturally infected big brown bat. Surviving bats were infected a second time at 175 days post-(primary) infection with a dose (103.9–104.9 MICLD50) of the same RABV variant. Surviving bats were infected a third time at either 175 or 305 days post-(secondary) infection with a dose (104.9 MICLD50) of the same RABV variant. When correcting for dose, similar mortality was observed following primary and secondary infection, but reduced mortality was observed following the third and last RABV challenge, despite infection with a high viral dose. Inducible RABV-neutralizing antibody titres post-infection were ephemeral among infected individuals, and dropped below levels of detection in several bats between subsequent infections. These results suggest that long-term repeated infection of bats may confer significant immunological memory and reduced susceptibility to RABV infection.
PMCID: PMC3052523  PMID: 20519458
8.  Molecular Inferences Suggest Multiple Host Shifts of Rabies Viruses from Bats to Mesocarnivores in Arizona during 2001–2009 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002786.
In nature, rabies virus (RABV; genus Lyssavirus, family Rhabdoviridae) represents an assemblage of phylogenetic lineages, associated with specific mammalian host species. Although it is generally accepted that RABV evolved originally in bats and further shifted to carnivores, mechanisms of such host shifts are poorly understood, and examples are rarely present in surveillance data. Outbreaks in carnivores caused by a RABV variant, associated with big brown bats, occurred repeatedly during 2001–2009 in the Flagstaff area of Arizona. After each outbreak, extensive control campaigns were undertaken, with no reports of further rabies cases in carnivores for the next several years. However, questions remained whether all outbreaks were caused by a single introduction and further perpetuation of bat RABV in carnivore populations, or each outbreak was caused by an independent introduction of a bat virus. Another question of concern was related to adaptive changes in the RABV genome associated with host shifts. To address these questions, we sequenced and analyzed 66 complete and 20 nearly complete RABV genomes, including those from the Flagstaff area and other similar outbreaks in carnivores, caused by bat RABVs, and representatives of the major RABV lineages circulating in North America and worldwide. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that each Flagstaff outbreak was caused by an independent introduction of bat RABV into populations of carnivores. Positive selection analysis confirmed the absence of post-shift changes in RABV genes. In contrast, convergent evolution analysis demonstrated several amino acids in the N, P, G and L proteins, which might be significant for pre-adaptation of bat viruses to cause effective infection in carnivores. The substitution S/T242 in the viral glycoprotein is of particular merit, as a similar substitution was suggested for pathogenicity of Nishigahara RABV strain. Roles of the amino acid changes, detected in our study, require additional investigations, using reverse genetics and other approaches.
Author Summary
Host shifts of the rabies virus (RABV) from bats to carnivores are important for our understanding of viral evolution and emergence, and have significant public health implications, particularly for the areas where “terrestrial” rabies has been eliminated. In this study we addressed several rabies outbreaks in carnivores that occurred in the Flagstaff area of Arizona during 2001–2009, and caused by the RABV variant associated with big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Based on phylogenetic analysis we demonstrated that each outbreak resulted from a separate introduction of bat RABV into populations of carnivores. No post-shift changes in viral genomes were detected under the positive selection analysis. Trying to answer the question why certain bat RABV variants are capable for host shifts to carnivores and other variants are not, we developed a convergent evolution analysis, and implemented it for multiple RABV lineages circulating worldwide. This analysis identified several amino acids in RABV proteins which may facilitate host shifts from bats to carnivores. Precise roles of these amino acids require additional investigations, using reverse genetics and animal experimentation. In general, our approach and the results obtained can be used for prediction of host shifts and emergence of other zoonotic pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3380930  PMID: 22737076
Studies on the influence of environmental temperature on the pathogenesis of rabies in two species of experimentally infected Chiroptera, the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida mexicana) and the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), provided evidence that little or no viral multiplication occurs in the inactive host during experimentally induced hibernation. When inoculated animals are wakened from hibernation by transfer to a warm room, virus previously in "cold storage" multiplies, reaching detectable levels in various tissues. Similar results were obtained with two strains of rabies virus, a canine rabies street virus which produced a fatal infection in man and a strain isolated from the pooled brown fat of naturally infected little brown bats. However, certain differences in the characteristics of these virus strains were observed. The canine rabies virus strain produced an encephalitic disease in mice and overt symptoms in bats; the bat rabies virus producing an encephalomyelitic disease in mice and infrequent symptoms in bats. The bat rabies virus had a greater predilection for brown adipose tissue than the canine strain. Results obtained with the bat rabies virus in hibernating animals indicate that after a period of latency in a dormant animal activated virus may reach the salivary gland more rapidly, with greater frequency, and attain higher concentrations than in animals which have not experienced a period of hibernation. The significance of these results as they relate to the natural history of bat rabies is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2137247  PMID: 19867178
10.  Naturally Acquired Rabies Virus Infections in Wild-Caught Bats 
The study of a zoonotic disease requires an understanding of the disease incidence in animal reservoirs. Rabies incidence in bats submitted to diagnostic laboratories does not accurately reflect the true incidence in wild bat populations as a bias exists for testing bats that have been in contact with humans or pets. This article details the rabies incidence in two species of bats collected from natural settings without such bias. In this study, brain smears from 0.6% and 2.5% of wild-caught and apparently healthy Tadarida brasiliensis and Eptesicus fuscus, respectively, were positive for rabies virus (RV) antigen. Conversely, 92% of the grounded T. brasiliensis were positive for RV. Serology performed on captive colony and sick bats reveal an immune response to rabies. This work illustrates the complex interplay between immunity, disease state, and the conundrum of RV maintenance in bats.
PMCID: PMC3249890  PMID: 21923271
Antibodies; Bats; Rabies; Viral isolation
11.  High Diversity of Rabies Viruses Associated with Insectivorous Bats in Argentina: Presence of Several Independent Enzootics 
Rabies is a fatal infection of the central nervous system primarily transmitted by rabid animal bites. Rabies virus (RABV) circulates through two different epidemiological cycles: terrestrial and aerial, where dogs, foxes or skunks and bats, respectively, act as the most relevant reservoirs and/or vectors. It is widely accepted that insectivorous bats are not important vectors of RABV in Argentina despite the great diversity of bat species and the extensive Argentinean territory.
We studied the positivity rate of RABV detection in different areas of the country, and the antigenic and genetic diversity of 99 rabies virus (RABV) strains obtained from 14 species of insectivorous bats collected in Argentina between 1991 and 2008.
Based on the analysis of bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%, depending on the geographic location. The findings were distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory. The 99 strains of insectivorous bat-related sequences were divided into six distinct lineages associated with Tadarida brasiliensis, Myotis spp, Eptesicus spp, Histiotus montanus, Lasiurus blosseviilli and Lasiurus cinereus. Comparison with RABV sequences obtained from insectivorous bats of the Americas revealed co-circulation of similar genetic variants in several countries. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples.
This study demonstrates the presence of several independent enzootics of rabies in insectivorous bats of Argentina. This information is relevant to identify potential areas at risk for human and animal infection.
Author Summary
In Argentina, successful vaccination and control of terrestrial rabies in the 1980s revealed the importance of the aerial route in RABV transmission. Current distribution of cases shows a predominance of rabies by hematophagous bats in the Northern regions where rabies is a major public health concern; in contrast, in Central and Southern regions where rabies is not a major public health concern, little surveillance is performed. Based on the analysis of insectivorous bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats in these regions ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%. This rate is comparable to other nations such as the United States (9–10%) where insectivorous bats are an important cause of concern for RABV surveillance systems. Antigenic and genetic analysis of a wide collection of rabies strains shows the presence of multiple endemic cycles associated with six bat insectivorous species distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory and several countries of the Americas. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples. Increased public education about the relationship between insectivorous bats and rabies are essential to avoid human cases and potential spread to terrestrial mammals.
PMCID: PMC3348165  PMID: 22590657
12.  Ecology and Geography of Transmission of Two Bat-Borne Rabies Lineages in Chile 
Rabies was known to humans as a disease thousands of years ago. In America, insectivorous bats are natural reservoirs of rabies virus. The bat species Tadarida brasiliensis and Lasiurus cinereus, with their respective, host-specific rabies virus variants AgV4 and AgV6, are the principal rabies reservoirs in Chile. However, little is known about the roles of bat species in the ecology and geographic distribution of the virus. This contribution aims to address a series of questions regarding the ecology of rabies transmission in Chile. Analyzing records from 1985–2011 at the Instituto de Salud Pública de Chile (ISP) and using ecological niche modeling, we address these questions to help in understanding rabies-bat ecological dynamics in South America. We found ecological niche identity between both hosts and both viral variants, indicating that niches of all actors in the system are undifferentiated, although the viruses do not necessarily occupy the full geographic distributions of their hosts. Bat species and rabies viruses share similar niches, and our models had significant predictive power even across unsampled regions; results thus suggest that outbreaks may occur under consistent, stable, and predictable circumstances.
Author Summary
The situation of rabies in America has been changing: rabies in dogs has decreased considerably, but bats are increasingly documented as natural reservoirs of other rabies variants. A significant gap exists in understanding of bat-borne rabies in Latin America. We identified bat species known to be connected with enzootic rabies with different antigenic variants in Chile, and compiled large-scale data sets by which to test for ecological niche differences among virus lineages and bat hosts. Our results begin to characterize important ecological factors affecting rabies distribution; modeling rabies in Chile allows comparisons across different latitudes and diverse landscapes. We found that rabies virus strains are found in similar environments, regardless of the bat host involved. This research improves understanding of bat-borne rabies dynamics, and important step towards preventing and controlling this and other emergent diseases linked to bats.
PMCID: PMC3861194  PMID: 24349592
13.  Molecular epidemiology of livestock rabies viruses isolated in the northeastern Brazilian states of Paraíba and Pernambuco from 2003 - 2009 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:32.
Limited or no epidemiological information has been reported for rabies viruses (RABVs) isolated from livestock in the northeastern Brazilian states of Paraíba (PB) and Pernambuco (PE). The aim of this study was to clarify the molecular epidemiology of RABVs circulating in livestock, especially cattle, in these areas between 2003 and 2009.
Phylogenetic analysis based on 890 nt of the nucleoprotein (N) gene revealed that the 52 livestock-derived RABV isolates characterized here belonged to a single lineage. These isolates clustered with a vampire bat-related RABV lineage previously identified in other states in Brazil; within PB and PE, this lineage was divided between the previously characterized main lineage and a novel sub-lineage.
The occurrences of livestock rabies in PB and PE originated from vampire bat RABVs, and the causative RABV lineage has been circulating in this area of northeastern Brazil for at least 7 years. This distribution pattern may correlate to that of a vampire bat population isolated by geographic barriers.
PMCID: PMC3285087  PMID: 22243739
14.  Variability in Seroprevalence of Rabies Virus Neutralizing Antibodies and Associated Factors in a Colorado Population of Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86261.
In 2001–2005 we sampled permanently marked big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) at summer roosts in buildings at Fort Collins, Colorado, for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (RVNA). Seroprevalence was higher in adult females (17.9%, n = 2,332) than males (9.4%, n = 128; P = 0.007) or volant juveniles (10.2%, n = 738; P<0.0001). Seroprevalence was lowest in a drought year with local insecticide use and highest in the year with normal conditions, suggesting that environmental stress may suppress RVNA production in big brown bats. Seroprevalence also increased with age of bat, and varied from 6.2 to 26.7% among adult females at five roosts sampled each year for five years. Seroprevalence of adult females at 17 other roosts sampled for 1 to 4 years ranged from 0.0 to 47.1%. Using logistic regression, the only ranking model in our candidate set of explanatory variables for serological status at first sampling included year, day of season, and a year by day of season interaction that varied with relative drought conditions. The presence or absence of antibodies in individual bats showed temporal variability. Year alone provided the best model to explain the likelihood of adult female bats showing a transition to seronegative from a previously seropositive state. Day of the season was the only competitive model to explain the likelihood of a transition from seronegative to seropositive, which increased as the season progressed. We found no rabies viral RNA in oropharyngeal secretions of 261 seropositive bats or in organs of 13 euthanized seropositive bats. Survival of seropositive and seronegative bats did not differ. The presence of RVNA in serum of bats should not be interpreted as evidence for ongoing rabies infection.
PMCID: PMC3899234  PMID: 24465996
15.  Changes in kinematics and aerodynamics over a range of speeds in Tadarida brasiliensis, the Brazilian free-tailed bat 
To date, wake measurements using particle image velocimetry (PIV) of bats in flight have studied only three bat species, all fruit and nectar feeders. In this study, we present the first wake structure analysis for an insectivorous bat. Tadarida brasiliensis, the Brazilian free-tailed bat, is an aerial hunter that annually migrates long distances and also differs strikingly from the previously investigated species morphologically. We compare the aerodynamics of T. brasiliensis with those of other, frugivorous bats and with common swifts, Apus apus, a bird with wing morphology, kinematics and flight ecology similar to that of these bats. The comparison reveals that, for the range of speeds evaluated, the cyclical pattern of aerodynamic forces associated with a wingbeat shows more similarities between T. brasiliensis and A. apus than between T. brasiliensis and other frugivorous bats.
PMCID: PMC3350744  PMID: 22258554
flight; bat; wake structure; aerodynamics
16.  Roosts as information centres: social learning of food preferences in bats 
Biology Letters  2005;1(1):72-74.
The short-tailed fruit bat, Carollia perspicillata, lives in groups in tree hollows and caves. To investigate whether these roosts might serve as information centres, we tested whether individuals' preferences for novel foods could be enhanced through social learning at the roost. We also determined whether socially learned preferences for novel foods were reversed through interaction with other roost mates by simulating changes in available food resources such as those associated with variations in timing of fruit production in different plant species. Bats exhibited socially induced preferences that were readily reversible. We suggest that for frugivorous bats, roosts can serve as centres for information exchange about novel and familiar, ephemeral foods without requiring conspecific recruitment to these resources.
PMCID: PMC1965196  PMID: 17148131
social learning; roosts; bats; information centres
17.  Laboratory Surveillance of Rabies in Humans, Domestic Animals, and Bats in Madagascar from 2005 to 2010 
Background. Rabies virus (RABV) has circulated in Madagascar at least since the 19th century. Objectives. To assess the circulation of lyssavirus in the island from 2005 to 2010. Materials and Methods. Animal (including bats) and human samples were tested for RABV and other lyssavirus using antigen, ribonucleic acid (RNA), and antibodies detection and virus isolation. Results. Half of the 437 domestic or tame wild terrestrial mammal brains tested were found RABV antigen positive, including 54% of the 341 dogs tested. This percentage ranged from 26% to 75% across the period. Nine of the 10 suspected human cases tested were laboratory confirmed. RABV circulation was confirmed in 34 of the 38 districts sampled. No lyssavirus RNA was detected in 1983 bats specimens. Nevertheless, antibodies against Lagos bat virus were detected in the sera of 12 among 50 Eidolon dupreanum specimens sampled. Conclusion. More than a century after the introduction of the vaccine, rabies still remains endemic in Madagascar.
PMCID: PMC3170745  PMID: 21991442
18.  Effects of sunlight on behavior and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in two species of Old World fruit bats 
Dermato-endocrinology  2013;5(1):192-198.
It has long been accepted that most vertebrate animals meet their vitamin D requirements from exposure of skin to UV-B (UV-B) radiation. Many factors affect this endogenous synthesis of vitamin D, including season, latitude, time of day, age, presence of hair, and degree of skin pigmentation. Most bats roost in dark places by day and forage at night, and thus have little or no potential for sunlight exposure. Notwithstanding, some tropical species are diurnal and are known to roost in the canopy of trees where they may be exposed to sunlight for up to 12 h each day. In this study, two species of captive tropical bats (both species are active at night but one, Rousettus aegyptiacus, roosts in caves, tombs, and buildings, whereas the other, Pteropus hypomelanus, roosts in trees) were evaluated for their ability to endogenously synthesize vitamin D. Following timed periods of sunlight exposure, blood plasma was analyzed using a competitive protein binding assay (CPBA) to determine concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the major circulating vitamin D metabolite. The ability to photoconvert provitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol, 7-DHC) in the sub-tropical winter was determined using sunlight exposed borosilicate samples of 7-DHC in hourly increments. Finally, both species were evaluated in their preference for a roost site by the release of individuals into sunlight or shade in timed trials.
Our results support the hypotheses: (1) when exposed to natural sunlight, both species exhibited an ability to endogenously synthesize vitamin D, although significant differences were found between the two, (2) photoconversion of 7-DHC to previtamin D3 is possible during the mid-day hours of a sub-tropical winter day and (3) captive, cave roosting R. aegyptiacus will choose shaded roost sites while captive P. hypomelanus will show no preference for either shade or sun.
PMCID: PMC3897589  PMID: 24494054
bats; calcium; Chiroptera; sunlight; UV-B radiation; vitamin D
19.  Intracerebral Administration of Recombinant Rabies Virus Expressing GM-CSF Prevents the Development of Rabies after Infection with Street Virus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25414.
Recently it was found that prior immunization with recombinant rabies virus (RABV) expressing granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (LBNSE-GM-CSF) resulted in high innate/adaptive immune responses and protection against challenge with virulent RABV (Wen et al., JVI, 2011). In this study, the ability of LBNSE-GM-CSF to prevent animals from developing rabies was investigated in mice after infection with lethal doses of street RABV. It was found that intracerebral administration of LBNSE-GM-CSF protected more mice from developing rabies than sham-treated mice as late as day 5 after infection with street RABV. Intracerebral administration of LBNSE-GM-CSF resulted in significantly higher levels of chemokine/cytokine expression and more infiltration of inflammatory and immune cells into the central nervous system (CNS) than sham-administration or administration with UV-inactivated LBNSE-GM-CSF. Enhancement of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and increases in virus neutralizing antibodies (VNA) were also observed in mice treated with LBNSE-GM-CSF. On the other hand, intracerebral administration with UV-inactivated LBNSE-GM-CSF did not increase protection despite the fact that VNA were induced in the periphery. However, intracerebral administration with chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1, also termed CCL2) increased significantly the protective efficacy of UV-inactivated LBNSE-GM-CSF. Together these studies confirm that direct administration of LBNSE-GM-CSF can enhance the innate and adaptive immunity as well as the BBB permeability, thus allowing infiltration of inflammatory cells and other immune effectors enter into the CNS to clear the virus and prevent the development of rabies.
PMCID: PMC3182207  PMID: 21980450
Studies on the pathogenesis of rabies in two species of experimentally infected insectivorous Chiroptera, the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida mexicana), a quasi hibernator, and the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), a deep hibernator, provided evidence that brown adipose tissue may serve as an extraneural site for storage and multiplication of rabies virus. Although the Mexican free-tailed bat proved to be relatively insusceptible to experimental rabies infection, virus was demonstrated in the brown fat of 22 per cent of those animals shown to be infected by viral assay in white Swiss mice. Rabies infection in this species was most evident 20 to 40 days after intramuscular inoculation of virus. Rabies virus was found to be widely distributed in the little brown myotis 9 to 26 days following inoculation and virus concentrations in some of the tissues approached the level of the stock mouse brain virus suspension used in inoculating these bats. The shorter incubation period and higher virus titers in the tissues assayed reflect the increased susceptibility of Myotis lucifugus as compared with the Mexican free-tailed bat. Virus was demonstrated in the brown fat of 30 per cent of the experimentally infected Myotis. In the experimentally infected Myotis lucifugus and in the Syrian hamster which is highly susceptible to rabies infection, rabies virus was isolated more frequently from the brown fat than from the salivary gland indicating that in a susceptible host brown adipose tissue may be as frequent a site of viral proliferation as salivary gland. Since rabies virus was found to persist for long periods of time in the brown fat of experimentally infected bats and was occasionally demonstrated in this tissue alone, it is suggested that brown adipose tissue provides a mechanism by which these animals may serve as reservoirs for this agent in nature. The possibility that similar mechanisms may be involved in the maintenance of other viral agents during interepidemic periods is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2137008  PMID: 13835624
21.  Versatility and Stereotypy of Free-Tailed Bat Songs 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6746.
In mammals, complex songs are uncommon and few studies have examined song composition or the order of elements in songs, particularly with respect to regional and individual variation. In this study we examine how syllables and phrases are ordered and combined, ie “syntax”, of the song of Tadarida brasiliensis, the Brazilian free-tailed bat. Specifically, we test whether phrase and song composition differ among individuals and between two regions, we determine variability across renditions within individuals, and test whether phrases are randomly ordered and combined. We report three major findings. First, song phrases were highly stereotyped across two regions, so much so that some songs from the two colonies were almost indistinguishable. All males produced songs with the same four types of syllables and the same three types of phrases. Second, we found that although song construction was similar across regions, the number of syllables within phrases, and the number and order of phrases in songs varied greatly within and among individuals. Last, we determined that phrase order, although diverse, deviated from random models. We found broad scale phrase-order rules and certain higher order combinations that were highly preferred. We conclude that free-tailed bat songs are composed of highly stereotyped phrases hierarchically organized by a common set of syntactical rules. However, within global species-specific patterns, songs male free-tailed bats dynamically vary syllable number, phrase order, and phrase repetitions across song renditions.
PMCID: PMC2727915  PMID: 19707550
22.  Ecological and anthropogenic drivers of rabies exposure in vampire bats: implications for transmission and control 
Despite extensive culling of common vampire bats in Latin America, lethal human rabies outbreaks transmitted by this species are increasingly recognized, and livestock rabies occurs with striking frequency. To identify the individual and population-level factors driving rabies virus (RV) transmission in vampire bats, we conducted a longitudinal capture–recapture study in 20 vampire bat colonies spanning four regions of Peru. Serology demonstrated the circulation of RV in vampire bats from all regions in all years. Seroprevalence ranged from 3 to 28 per cent and was highest in juvenile and sub-adult bats. RV exposure was independent of bat colony size, consistent with an absence of population density thresholds for viral invasion and extinction. Culling campaigns implemented during our study failed to reduce seroprevalence and were perhaps counterproductive for disease control owing to the targeted removal of adults, but potentially greater importance of juvenile and sub-adult bats for transmission. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms of RV maintenance in vampire bats and highlight the need for ecologically informed approaches to rabies prevention in Latin America.
PMCID: PMC3396893  PMID: 22696521
culling; disease thresholds; longitudinal; Lyssavirus; chiroptera; Desmodus
23.  Evolutionary History and Phylogeography of Rabies Viruses Associated with Outbreaks in Trinidad 
Bat rabies is an emerging disease of public health significance in the Americas. The Caribbean island of Trinidad experiences periodic outbreaks within the livestock population. We performed molecular characterisation of Trinidad rabies virus (RABV) and used a Bayesian phylogeographic approach to investigate the extent to which outbreaks are a result of in situ evolution versus importation of virus from the nearby South American mainland. Trinidadian RABV sequences were confirmed as bat variant and clustered with Desmodus rotundus (vampire bat) related sequences. They fell into two largely temporally defined lineages designated Trinidad I and II. The Trinidad I lineage which included sequences from 1997–2000 (all but two of which were from the northeast of the island) was most closely related to RABV from Ecuador (2005, 2007), French Guiana (1990) and Venezuela (1993, 1994). Trinidad II comprised sequences from the southwest of the island, which clustered into two groups: Trinidad IIa, which included one sequence each from 2000 and 2007, and Trinidad IIb including all 2010 sequences. The Trinidad II sequences were most closely related to sequences from Brazil (1999, 2004) and Uruguay (2007, 2008). Phylogeographic analyses support three separate RABV introductions from the mainland from which each of the three Trinidadian lineages arose. The estimated dates for the introductions and subsequent lineage expansions suggest periods of in situ evolution within Trinidad following each introduction. These data also indicate co-circulation of Trinidad lineage I and IIa during 2000. In light of these findings and the likely vampire bat origin of Trinidadian RABV, further studies should be conducted to investigate the relationship between RABV spatiotemporal dynamics and vampire bat population ecology, in particular any movement between the mainland and Trinidad.
Author Summary
The Caribbean island of Trinidad experiences periodic rabies virus (RABV) outbreaks within the livestock population. In this study, we inferred the evolutionary history of RABV in the Americas and reconstructed past patterns of RABV geographic spread in order to address the question of whether Trinidadian outbreaks arise from locally maintained RABV or are the result of virus importation from the mainland (presumably via infected bats). Our results provide statistical support for three importation events that gave rise to each of three Trinidadian vampire bat-associated lineages identified in the study. They also indicate limited periods of in situ evolution within Trinidad following each of these introductions. The results also support Mexico and Brazil as major epicenters for the expansion of RABV associated with vampire bats throughout the Americas and consequently to Trinidad. The findings of our study are particularly relevant to local RABV monitoring and control. In addition to justifying vampire bats as the main target for active rabies surveillance and control activities in Trinidad, they suggest that more intense surveillance of regions that lie close to the mainland may be warranted. Finally, in light of these findings, further studies should be conducted to investigate the relationship between RABV spatiotemporal dynamics and vampire bat population ecology.
PMCID: PMC3749974  PMID: 23991230
24.  First Case of Human Rabies in Chile Caused by an Insectivorous Bat Virus Variant 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(1):79-81.
The first human rabies case in Chile since 1972 occurred in March 1996 in a patient without history of known exposure. Antigenic and genetic characterization of the rabies isolate indicated that its reservoir was the insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis. This is the first human rabies case caused by an insectivorous bat rabies virus variant reported in Latin America.
PMCID: PMC2730271  PMID: 11749754
rabies; Chile; bats; human; Latin America; Tadarida
25.  Investigating the Role for IL-21 in Rabies Virus Vaccine-induced Immunity 
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving multi-dose post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and over 55,000 deaths per year globally. A major goal in rabies virus (RABV) research is to develop a single-dose PEP that would simplify vaccination protocols, reduce costs associated with RABV prevention, and save lives. Protection against RABV infections requires virus neutralizing antibodies; however, factors influencing the development of protective RABV-specific B cell responses remain to be elucidated. Here we used a mouse model of IL-21 receptor-deficiency (IL-21R−/−) to characterize the role for IL-21 in RABV vaccine-induced immunity. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a low dose of a live recombinant RABV-based vaccine (rRABV) produced only low levels of primary or secondary anti-RABV antibody response while wild-type mice developed potent anti-RABV antibodies. Furthermore, IL-21R−/− mice immunized with low-dose rRABV were only minimally protected against pathogenic RABV challenge, while all wild-type mice survived challenge, indicating that IL-21R signaling is required for antibody production in response to low-dose RABV-based vaccination. IL-21R−/− mice immunized with a higher dose of vaccine produced suboptimal anti-RABV primary antibody responses, but showed potent secondary antibodies and protection similar to wild-type mice upon challenge with pathogenic RABV, indicating that IL-21 is dispensable for secondary antibody responses to live RABV-based vaccines when a primary response develops. Furthermore, we show that IL-21 is dispensable for the generation of Tfh cells and memory B cells in the draining lymph nodes of immunized mice but is required for the detection of optimal GC B cells or plasma cells in the lymph node or bone marrow, respectively, in a vaccine dose-dependent manner. Collectively, our preliminary data show that IL-21 is critical for the development of optimal vaccine-induced primary but not secondary antibody responses against RABV infections.
Author Summary
Over two-thirds of the world's population lives in regions where rabies is endemic, resulting in over 15 million people receiving post-exposure treatment. A person, disproportionately a child, dies of rabies every 20 minutes and the cost of rabies prevention exceeds $1 billion US dollars per year. The development of a single-dose human rabies vaccine would greatly reduce the burden of rabies globally by lowering the cost associated with rabies vaccination and saving lives. Understanding how B cells develop to produce protective virus neutralizing antibodies would greatly help to achieve the goal of developing a single-dose vaccine. In this report, we show that IL-21 is critical for the induction of primary vaccine-induced anti-RABV G antibody titers and that the effects of IL-21 are highly dependent on the dose of vaccine administered. In our model of rabies immunogenicity and protection, the lack of IL-21 receptor influenced the detection of B cells in germinal centers in lymph nodes or of plasma cells in bone marrow after immunization with low or high doses of vaccine, respectively. Overall, these preliminary results indicate that IL-21 has the potential to influence B cell development and functions in the context of rabies vaccine-induced immunity and protection.
PMCID: PMC3597479  PMID: 23516660

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