Bats are of vital ecological and economic importance, due to their role as pollinators, seed dispersers, insect predators and bioindicators. Their populations are however under increasing pressure from anthropogenic impacts, in particular habitat loss, increased urbanisation and climate change. As a result Australian grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) populations are seeking shelter in regional and urban centres, thus increasing contact rates between humans and flying foxes. Pteropus poliocephalus are known vectors for a range of zoonotic pathogens, but reverse pathogen transmission (zooanthroponosis) from humans into bat species has rarely been investigated. The identification of zooanthroponosis in P. poliocephalus could have important implications both from a conservation and One health perspective. To identify potential zooanthroponosis we are testing wild and captive populations of P. poliocephalus for the presence of human-borne Cryptosporidium species.
Cryptosporidium is one ofthe most common causes of enteric illness in humans. The zoonotic C. parvum is capable of infecting both humans and other vertebrates and is therefore of high clinical importance. We propose that captive P. poliocephalus populations may be at increased risk of human-borne Cryptosporidium infection as a result of feeding and handling, and reduction in immune function in cases of illness and injury.
DNA was extracted from faecal samples collected from wild (n=149, 6 locations) and captive (n=36, 1 location) populations in NSW. Detection and characterisation of Cryptosporidium was performed at the 18s rRNA gene. Sequencing data indicates the presence of novel genotypes of Cryptosporidium spp. in wild and captive P. poliocephalus populations in NSW. Further genetic analysis is currently being performed to confirm these novel findings.