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J Virol. 2008 Sep;82(18):9107-14. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00857-08. Epub 2008 Jun 11.

Novel astroviruses in insectivorous bats.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Abstract

Bats are increasingly recognized to harbor a wide range of viruses, and in most instances these viruses appear to establish long-term persistence in these animals. They are the reservoir of a number of human zoonotic diseases including Nipah, Ebola, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. We report the identification of novel groups of astroviruses in apparently healthy insectivorous bats found in Hong Kong, in particular, bats belonging to the genera Miniopterus and Myotis. Astroviruses are important causes of diarrhea in many animal species, including humans. Many of the bat astroviruses form distinct phylogenetic clusters in the genus Mamastrovirus within the family Astroviridae. Virus detection rates of 36% to 100% and 50% to 70% were found in Miniopterus magnater and Miniopterus pusillus bats, respectively, captured within a single bat habitat during four consecutive visits spanning 1 year. There was high genetic diversity of viruses in bats found within this single habitat. Some bat astroviruses may be phylogenetically related to human astroviruses, and further studies with a wider range of bat species in different geographic locations are warranted. These findings are likely to provide new insights into the ecology and evolution of astroviruses and reinforce the role of bats as a reservoir of viruses with potential to pose a zoonotic threat to human health.

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