Poster Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Paramyxoviruses in Australian flying-foxes: each to their own? (#177)

Alison J Peel 1 , Olivier Restif 2 , Vicky Boyd 3 , Lauren Goldspink 4 , Gary Crameri 3 , Daniel Edson 4 , Hamish McCallum 5 , Craig S Smith 4
  1. Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
  2. Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  3. CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  4. Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Coopers Plains, Queensland, Australia
  5. Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia

Bats are reservoir hosts for many emerging zoonotic pathogens. In Australia, the most widely studied is the paramyxovirus Hendra virus (HeV), yet a diverse community of viruses has been detected in Australian flying-foxes (Smith et al. 2011, Vidgen et al. 2015).  Although HeV or anti-HeV virus antibodies have been detected in all four flying-fox species, recent studies investigating aspects of the host-pathogen relationship suggests that the closely related black and spectacled flying-foxes (Pteropus alecto and P. conspicillatus) may be the primary reservoir host (Smith et al. 2014, Goldspink et al. 2015). Natural host-virus systems are complex and there is increasing awareness of the importance of understanding ‘host communities’ (a single virus may have multiple reservoir hosts, each with heterogeneous contributions to pathogen dynamics, persistence and spillover) and ‘viral communities’ (known zoonotic viruses are often detected alongside a wide diversity of viruses in their natural hosts, with unknown pathogenic potential) (Vasco et al. 2007; Viana et al. 2014). The species-specificity of HeV is only just beginning to be elucidated; for other Australian bat paramyxoviruses, it is unknown. A novel high-throughput multiplex PCR (Boyd et al., unpublished) was utilised to simultaneously detect up to nine known bat paramyxoviruses in individual urine samples from three of the four Australian flying-fox species collected in a related study (Edson et al. in prep). Results support the existence of specific host-viral relationships, along with synchronous shedding pulses of multiple viruses. We interpret these results in the context of a novel reservoir framework, reconsidering HeV as part of a multi-host-multi-virus community. HeV in Australian flying-foxes, and its spillover to horses and humans, is the best understood emerging bat pathogen spillover system, and by examining it in this broader context, this study will provide significant insight into both HeV dynamics and bat virus spillover in general.