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.
Lyssavirus surveillance in bats was performed in Bangladesh during 2003 and 2004. No virus isolates were obtained. Three serum samples (all from Pteropus giganteus, n = 127) of 288 total serum samples, obtained from bats in 9 different taxa, neutralized lyssaviruses Aravan and Khujand. The infection occurs in bats in Bangladesh, but virus prevalence appears low.
lyssavirus; Khujand virus; Aravan virus; rabies; bat; rhabdovirus; Bangladesh; tropical Asia; antibody; dispatch
We conducted a survey in Cambodia in 2000 on henipavirus infection among several bat species, including flying foxes, and persons exposed to these animals. Among 1,072 bat serum samples tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, antibodies reactive to Nipah virus (NiV) antigen were detected only in Pteropus lylei species; Cynopterus sphinx, Hipposideros larvatus, Scotophilus kuhlii, Chaerephon plicata, Taphozous melanopogon, and T. theobaldi species were negative. Seroneutralization applied on a subset of 156 serum samples confirmed these results. None of the 8 human serum samples was NiV seropositive with the seroneutralization test. One virus isolate exhibiting cytopathic effect with syncytia was obtained from 769 urine samples collected at roosts of P. lylei specimens. Partial molecular characterization of this isolate demonstrated that it was closely related to NiV. These results strengthen the hypothesis that flying foxes could be the natural host of NiV. Surveillance of human cases should be implemented.
Cambodia; Nipah virus; Chiroptera; Pteropus
► Universal real-time PCR primer pair demonstrated to hybridize to and detect each of the known Lyssaviruses (including Rabies virus) with greater sensitivity than a standard pan-Lyssavirus hemi-nested RT-PCR typically used. ► Target sequences of bat derived virus species unavailable for analysis (Aravan-, Khujand-, Irkut-, West Caucasian bat- and Shimoni bat virus) were synthesized to produce oligonucleotides and the synthetic DNA was used as a target for primer hybridization.
Rabies virus (RABV) is enzootic throughout most of the world. It is now widely accepted that RABV had its origins in bats. Ten of the 11 Lyssavirus species recognised, including RABV, have been isolated from bats. There is, however, a lack of understanding regarding both the ecology and host reservoirs of Lyssaviruses. A real-time PCR assay for the detection of all Lyssaviruses using universal primers would be beneficial for Lyssavirus surveillance. It was shown that using SYBR® Green, a universal real-time PCR primer pair previously demonstrated to detect European bat Lyssaviruses 1 and 2, and RABV, was able to detect reverse transcribed RNA for each of the seven virus species available to us. Target sequences of bat derived virus species unavailable for analysis were synthesized to produce oligonucleotides. Lagos Bat-, Duvenhage- and Mokola virus full nucleoprotein gene clones enabled a limit of 5–50 plasmid copies to be detected. Five copies of each of the synthetic DNA oligonucleotides of Aravan-, Khujand-, Irkut-, West Caucasian bat- and Shimoni bat virus were detected. The single universal primer pair was therefore able to detect each of the most divergent known Lyssaviruses with great sensitivity.
Lyssavirus; Rabies; Bat; SYBR Green; Real-time PCR; Synthetic DNA
Active surveillance for lyssaviruses was conducted among populations of bats in the Philippines. The presence of past or current Lyssavirus infection was determined by use of direct fluorescent antibody assays on bat brains and virus neutralization assays on bat sera. Although no bats were found to have active infection with a Lyssavirus, 22 had evidence of neutralizing antibody against the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV). Seropositivity was statistically associated with one species of bat, Miniopterus schreibersi. Results from the virus neutralization assays are consistent with the presence in the Philippines of a naturally occurring Lyssavirus related to ABLV.
rabies; Lyssavirus; Chiroptera; Philippines
The Aravan virus was isolated from a Lesser Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis blythi) in the Osh region of Kyrghyzstan, central Asia, in 1991. We determined the complete sequence of the nucleoprotein (N) gene and compared it with those of 26 representative lyssaviruses obtained from databases. The Aravan virus was distinguished from seven distinct genotypes on the basis of nucleotide and amino acid identity. Phylogenetic analysis based on both nucleotide and amino acid sequences showed that the Aravan virus was more closely related to genotypes 4, 5, and—to a lesser extent—6, which circulates among insectivorus bats in Europe and Africa. The Aravan virus does not belong to any of the seven known genotypes of lyssaviruses, namely, rabies, Lagos bat, Mokola, and Duvenhage viruses and European bat lyssavirus 1, European bat lyssavirus 2, and Australian bat lyssavirus. Based on these data, we propose a new genotype for the Lyssavirus genus.
Lyssavirus; genotype; N gene; phylogenetic analysis; bat; central Asia; research
In Cambodia, 1,303 bats of 16 species were tested for lyssavirus. No lyssavirus nucleocapsid was detected in 1,283 brains tested by immunofluorescence assay. Antibodies against lyssaviruses were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 144 (14.7%) of 981 serum samples. Thirty of 187 serum samples contained neutralizing antibodies against different lyssaviruses.
Cambodia; Lyssavirus; Chiroptera; dispatch; bats
Brain analysis cannot be used for the investigation of active lyssavirus infection in healthy bats because most bat species are protected by conservation directives. Consequently, serology remains the only tool for performing virological studies on natural bat populations; however, the presence of antibodies merely reflects past exposure to the virus and is not a valid marker of active infection. This work describes a new nested reverse transcription (RT)-PCR technique specifically designed for the detection of the European bat virus 1 on oropharyngeal swabs obtained from bats but also able to amplify RNA from the remaining rabies-related lyssaviruses in brain samples. The technique was successfully used for surveillance of a serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) colony involved in a case of human exposure, in which 15 out of 71 oropharyngeal swabs were positive. Lyssavirus infection was detected on 13 oropharyngeal swabs but in only 5 brains out of the 34 animals from which simultaneous brain and oropharyngeal samples had been taken. The lyssavirus involved could be rapidly identified by automatic sequencing of the RT-PCR products obtained from 14 brains and three bat oropharyngeal swabs. In conclusion, RT-PCR using oropharyngeal swabs will permit screening of wild bat populations for active lyssavirus infection, for research or epidemiological purposes, in line not only with conservation policies but also in a more efficient manner than classical detection techniques used on the brain.
Bats have been proposed as major reservoirs for diverse emerging infectious viral diseases, with rabies being the best known in Europe. However, studies exploring the ecological interaction between lyssaviruses and their natural hosts are scarce. This study completes our active surveillance work on Spanish bat colonies that began in 1992. Herein, we analyzed ecological factors that might affect the infection dynamics observed in those colonies. Between 2001 and 2011, we collected and tested 2,393 blood samples and 45 dead bats from 25 localities and 20 bat species. The results for dead confirmed the presence of EBLV-1 RNA in six species analyzed (for the first time in Myotis capaccinii). Samples positive for European bat lyssavirus-1 (EBLV-1)–neutralizing antibodies were detected in 68% of the localities sampled and in 13 bat species, seven of which were found for the first time (even in Myotis daubentonii, a species to date always linked to EBLV-2). EBLV-1 seroprevalence (20.7%) ranged between 11.1 and 40.2% among bat species and seasonal variation was observed, with significantly higher antibody prevalence in summer (July). EBLV-1 seroprevalence was significantly associated with colony size and species richness. Higher seroprevalence percentages were found in large multispecific colonies, suggesting that intra- and interspecific contacts are major risk factors for EBLV-1 transmission in bat colonies. Although bat-roosting behavior strongly determines EBLV-1 variability, we also found some evidence that bat phylogeny might be involved in bat-species seroprevalence. The results of this study highlight the importance of life history and roost ecology in understanding EBLV-1–prevalence patterns in bat colonies and also provide useful information for public health officials.
Ebolaviruses (EBOV) (family Filoviridae) cause viral hemorrhagic fevers in humans and non-human primates when they spill over from their wildlife reservoir hosts with case fatality rates of up to 90%. Fruit bats may act as reservoirs of the Filoviridae. The migratory fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, is common across sub-Saharan Africa and lives in large colonies, often situated in cities. We screened sera from 262 E. helvum using indirect fluorescent tests for antibodies against EBOV subtype Zaire. We detected a seropositive bat from Accra, Ghana, and confirmed this using western blot analysis. The bat was also seropositive for Lagos bat virus, a Lyssavirus, by virus neutralization test. The bat was fitted with a radio transmitter and was last detected in Accra 13 months after release post-sampling, demonstrating long-term survival. Antibodies to filoviruses have not been previously demonstrated in E. helvum. Radio-telemetry data demonstrates long-term survival of an individual bat following exposure to viruses of families that can be highly pathogenic to other mammal species. Because E. helvum typically lives in large urban colonies and is a source of bushmeat in some regions, further studies should determine if this species forms a reservoir for EBOV from which spillover infections into the human population may occur.
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Thailand to assess rabies-related knowledge and practices among persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats. The objectives were to identify deficiencies in rabies awareness, describe the occurrence of bat exposures, and explore factors associated with transdermal bat exposures.
A survey was administered to a convenience sample of adult guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. The questionnaire elicited information on demographics, experience with bat exposures, and rabies knowledge. Participants were also asked to describe actions they would take in response to a bat bite as well as actions for a bite from a potentially rabid animal. Bivariate analysis was used to compare responses between groups and multivariable logistic regression was used to explore factors independently associated with being bitten or scratched by a bat.
Of 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a potential source of rabies. A history of a bat bite or scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) stated either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of rabies transmission (68% vs. 90%, p = 0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p = 0.003). Guano mining, bat hunting, and being in a bat cave or roost area more than 5 times a year were associated with history of a bat bite or scratch.
These findings indicate the need for educational outreach to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure appropriate health-seeking behaviors for bat-inflicted wounds, particularly among at-risk groups in Thailand.
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. We surveyed persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats in Thailand to assess rabies‐related knowledge and practices. Targeted groups included guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. Of the 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a source of rabies. History of a bat bite/scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) expressed either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of transmission (68% vs. 90%, p=0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p=0.003). These findings indicate a need for educational outreach in Thailand to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure health‐seeking behaviors for bat‐inflicted wounds, particularly among at‐risk groups.
Daubenton bats may roost infrequently in human dwellings, so risk for human contact is low.
We report the first seroprevalence study of the occurrence of specific antibodies to European bat lyssavirus type 2 (EBLV-2) in Daubenton's bats. Bats were captured from 19 sites across eastern and southern Scotland. Samples from 198 Daubenton's bats, 20 Natterer's bats, and 6 Pipistrelle's bats were tested for EBLV-2. Blood samples (N = 94) were subjected to a modified fluorescent antibody virus neutralization test to determine antibody titer. From 0.05% to 3.8% (95% confidence interval) of Daubenton's bats were seropositive. Antibodies to EBLV-2 were not detected in the 2 other species tested. Mouth swabs (N = 218) were obtained, and RNA was extracted for a reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The RT-PCR included pan lyssavirus-primers (N gene) and internal PCR control primers for ribosomal RNA. EBLV-2 RNA was not detected in any of the saliva samples tested, and live virus was not detected in virus isolation tests.
Lyssavirus; EBLV-2; seroprevalence; Daubenton bats; Scotland; research
The traditional assumption that bats cannot synthesize vitamin C (Vc) has been challenged recently. We have previously shown that two Old World bat species (Rousettus leschenaultii and Hipposideros armiger) have functional L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO), an enzyme that catalyzes the last step of Vc biosynthesis de novo. Given the uncertainties surrounding when and how bats lost GULO function, exploration of gene evolutionary patterns is needed. We therefore sequenced GULO genes from 16 bat species in 5 families, aiming to establish their evolutionary histories. In five cases we identified pseudogenes for the first time, including two cases in the genus Pteropus (P. pumilus and P. conspicillatus) and three in family Hipposideridae (Coelops frithi, Hipposideros speoris, and H. bicolor). Evolutionary analysis shows that the Pteropus clade has the highest ω ratio and has been subjected to relaxed selection for less than 3 million years. Purifying selection acting on the pseudogenized GULO genes of roundleaf bats (family Hipposideridae) suggests they have lost the ability to synthesize Vc recently. Limited mutations in the reconstructed GULO sequence of the ancestor of all bats contrasts with the many mutations in the ancestral sequence of recently emerged Pteropus bats. We identified at least five mutational steps that were then related to clade origination times. Together, our results suggest that bats lost the ability to biosynthesize vitamin C recently by exhibiting stepwise mutation patterns during GULO evolution that can ultimately lead to pseudogenization.
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.
Specimens were obtained from the 3 Malagasy fruit bats, Pteropus rufus, Eidolon dupreanum, and Rousettus madagascariensis. Antibodies against Nipah, Hendra, and Tioman viruses were detected by immunoassay in 23 and by serum neutralization tests in 3 of 427 serum samples, which suggests that related viruses have circulated in Madagascar.
Madagascar; bats; henipavirus; Tioman virus; dispatch
Serum specimens from fruit bats were obtained at restaurants in Cambodia. We detected antibodies cross-reactive to Nipah virus by enzyme immunoassay in 11 (11.5%) of 96 Lyle’s flying foxes (Pteropus lylei). Our study suggests that viruses closely related to Nipah or Hendra viruses are more widespread in Southeast Asia than previously documented.
Pteropus; bats; antibodies; Nipah virus; Cambodia
A virus isolated from a Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattererii) in Germany was differentiated from other lyssaviruses on the basis of the reaction pattern of a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Phylogenetic analysis supported the assumption that the isolated virus, Bokeloh bat lyssavirus, may represent a new member of the genus Lyssavirus.
rabies; bats; lyssavirus; Natterer’s bat; Myotis nattereri; sequence analysis; zoonosis; Germany; viruses; dispatch
Rabies is a fatal zoonosis caused by a nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus, namely, rabies virus (RABV). Apart from RABV, at least 10 additional species are known as rabies-related lyssaviruses (RRVs), and some of them are responsible for occasional spillovers into humans. More lyssaviruses have also been detected recently in different bat ecosystems, thanks to the application of molecular diagnostic methods. Due to the variety of the members of the genus Lyssavirus, there is the necessity to develop a reliable molecular assay for rabies diagnosis able to detect and differentiate among the existing rabies and rabies-related viruses. In the present study, a pyrosequencing protocol targeting the 3′ terminus of the nucleoprotein (N) gene was applied for the rapid characterization of lyssaviruses. Correct identification of species was achieved for each sample tested. Results from the pyrosequencing assay were also confirmed by those obtained using the Sanger sequencing method. A pan-lyssavirus one-step reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was developed within the framework of the pyrosequencing procedure. The sensitivity (Se) of the one-step RT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and serial dilutions of titrated viruses. The assay demonstrated high analytical and relative specificity (Sp) (98.94%) and sensitivity (99.71%). To date, this is the first case in which pyrosequencing has been applied for lyssavirus identification using a cheaper diagnostic approach than the one for all the other protocols for rapid typing that we are acquainted with. Results from this study indicate that this procedure is suitable for lyssavirus detection in samples of both human and animal origin.
This study aimed to describe the transmission dynamics, the serological and virus excretion patterns of Nipah virus (NiV) in Pteropus vampyrus bats. Bats in captivity were sampled every 7–21 days over a 1-year period. The data revealed five NiV serological patterns categorized as high and low positives, waning, decreasing and increasing, and negative in these individuals. The findings strongly suggest that NiV circulates in wild bat populations and that antibody could be maintained for long periods. The study also found that pup and juvenile bats from seropositive dams tested seropositive, indicating that maternal antibodies against NiV are transmitted passively, and in this study population may last up to 14 months. NiV was isolated from the urine of one bat, and within a few weeks, two other seronegative bats seroconverted. Based on the temporal cluster of seroconversion, we strongly believe that the NiV isolated was recrudesced and then transmitted horizontally between bats during the study period.
Antibody pattern; horizontal transmission; isolation; Malaysia; Nipah virus; Pteropus bats; recrudesced
The study deals with the survey of different bat populations (Pteropus giganteus, Cynopterus sphinx, and Megaderma lyra) in India for highly pathogenic Nipah virus (NiV), Reston Ebola virus, and Marburg virus. Bats (n = 140) from two states in India (Maharashtra and West Bengal) were tested for IgG (serum samples) against these viruses and for virus RNAs. Only NiV RNA was detected in a liver homogenate of P. giganteus captured in Myanaguri, West Bengal. Partial sequence analysis of nucleocapsid, glycoprotein, fusion, and phosphoprotein genes showed similarity with the NiV sequences from earlier outbreaks in India. A serum sample of this bat was also positive by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for NiV-specific IgG. This is the first report on confirmation of Nipah viral RNA in Pteropus bat from India and suggests the possible role of this species in transmission of NiV in India.
A novel obligate intracellular bacterium was isolated from urine samples from fruit bats (Eonycterisspelaea) in peninsular Malaysia.
An obligate intracellular bacterium was isolated from urine samples from 7 (3.5%) of 202 fruit bats (Eonycteris spelaea) in peninsular Malaysia. The bacterium produced large membrane-bound inclusions in human, simian, and rodent cell lines, including epithelial, fibroblastlike, and lymphoid cells. Thin-section electron microscopy showed reticulate bodies dividing by binary fission and elementary bodies in the inclusions; mitochondria surrounded the inclusions. The inclusions were positive for periodic acid-Schiff stain but could not be stained by fluorescein-labeled anti–Chlamydia trachomatis major outer membrane protein monoclonal antibody. The bacterium was resistant to penicillin and streptomycin (MICs >256 mg/L) but susceptible to tetracycline (MIC = 0.25 mg/L) and chloramphenicol (MIC = 0.5 mg/L). Sequence analysis of the 16SrRNA gene indicated that it was most closely related to 2 isolates of Waddlia chondrophila (94% and 96% identity). The 16S and 23S rRNA gene signatures were only 91% identical. We propose this novel bacterium be called W. malaysiensis.
antimicrobial susceptibility; Chlamydia; Waddlia; fruit bat; 16S rDNA inclusions; research
Bats are reservoirs for emerging zoonotic viruses that can have a profound impact on human and animal health, including lyssaviruses, filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs). In the course of a project focused on pathogen discovery in contexts where human-bat contact might facilitate more efficient interspecies transmission of viruses, we surveyed gastrointestinal tissue obtained from bats collected in caves in Nigeria that are frequented by humans. Coronavirus consensus PCR and unbiased high-throughput pyrosequencing revealed the presence of coronavirus sequences related to those of SARS-CoV in a Commerson’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros commersoni). Additional genomic sequencing indicated that this virus, unlike subgroup 2b CoVs, which includes SARS-CoV, is unique, comprising three overlapping open reading frames between the M and N genes and two conserved stem-loop II motifs. Phylogenetic analyses in conjunction with these features suggest that this virus represents a new subgroup within group 2 CoVs.
Bats (order Chiroptera, suborders Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera) are reservoirs for a wide range of viruses that cause diseases in humans and livestock, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), responsible for the global SARS outbreak in 2003. The diversity of viruses harbored by bats is only just beginning to be understood because of expanded wildlife surveillance and the development and application of new tools for pathogen discovery. This paper describes a new coronavirus, one with a distinctive genomic organization that may provide insights into coronavirus evolution and biology.
Infection rates may be higher during pregnancy and lactation.
We conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to determine the distribution of and risk factors for seropositivity to Nipah virus (NiV) among Pteropus vampyrus and P. hypomelanus bats in Peninsular Malaysia. Neutralizing antibodies against NiV were detected at most locations surveyed. We observed a consistently higher NiV risk (odds ratio 3.9) and seroprevalence (32.8%) for P. vampyrus than P. hypomelanus (11.1%) bats. A 3-year longitudinal study of P. hypomelanus bats indicated nonseasonal temporal variation in seroprevalence, evidence for viral circulation within the study period, and an overall NiV seroprevalence of 9.8%. The seroprevalence fluctuated over the study duration between 1% and 20% and generally decreased during 2004–2006. Adult bats, particularly pregnant, with dependent pup and lactating bats, had a higher prevalence of NiV antibodies than juveniles. Antibodies in juveniles 6 months–2 years of age suggested viral circulation within the study period.
Nipah virus; viruses; risk factors; seroprevalence; infection; distribution; bats; Pteropid bats; Pteropus vampyrus; Pteropus hypomelanus; reservoir hosts; Malaysia
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.
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.