Bats are recognised reservoirs of zoonotic diseases. This project examined bats from households in Kenya for zoonotic pathogens. A concurrent cross sectional study provided information on zoonotic disease exposure in human and domestic animals from the same households. The project aimed to discover novel pathogens not previously reported in these hosts.
The study was conducted in western Kenya between April and November 2012. The 89 bats collected were comprised of Pipistrellus sp (15), Chaerophon sp (54), Epomophorus sp (8), Scotoecus sp (10) and Taphozous sp (2). Animals were captured from randomly selected households and anaesthetised for collection of heart blood. The animals were then euthanized for collection of fresh and fixed tissues. Blood smears were examined for haemoparasites.
Total nucleic acids (DNA/RNA) were extracted from serum, whole blood and tissue samples using the automated Roche MagnaPure LC instrument. Multiplexed libraries were prepared for both DNA and RNA and sequenced on the Roche 454 GS-FLX platform.
Malaria parasites were identified in the blood smears of four bats (Epomophorus sp). Individual libraries were prepared from 12 selected bat samples including all Epomophorus bats and a random selection of other bat species. Among the 12 selected bat samples 11 samples (92%) had Plasmodium species identified by sequencing.
Further work is being performed to confirm the Plasmodium species. Samples are also being examined by PCR for a variety of pathogens including hantavirus, lyssavirus and coronavirus. Histopathology is planned to document any pathological changes related to disease in these animals. Ongoing work will identify pathogens in the human inhabitants of these households.
Disease information from peridomestic wildlife together with information of disease exposure in humans and domestic animals will further our understanding of multi-host pathogens in this setting, allowing a “One Health” approach to understanding the epidemiology of zoonotic disease in households in western Kenya.