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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2770. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3770.

Continent-wide panmixia of an African fruit bat facilitates transmission of potentially zoonotic viruses.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB3 0ES, UK.
2
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, UK.
3
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, A1301, Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, CB101SA, UK.
4
Wildlife Zoonoses and Vector-Borne Diseases Research Group, Department of Virology, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB, UK.
5
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, CO 80523, USA.
6
Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
7
CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia.
8
Wildlife Division, Ghana Forestry Commission, Accra, Ghana.
9
University of Ghana, Faculty of Animal Biology and Conservation Science, Box LG 571, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
10
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, 20814-4799, USA.
11
Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, U.K.
12
Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore 169857.
13
University of Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology, Liverpool, L3 5TQ, UK.
14
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, E1 4NS, UK.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

The straw-coloured fruit bat, Eidolon helvum, is Africa's most widely distributed and commonly hunted fruit bat, often living in close proximity to human populations. This species has been identified as a reservoir of potentially zoonotic viruses, but uncertainties remain regarding viral transmission dynamics and mechanisms of persistence. Here we combine genetic and serological analyses of populations across Africa, to determine the extent of epidemiological connectivity among E. helvum populations. Multiple markers reveal panmixia across the continental range, at a greater geographical scale than previously recorded for any other mammal, whereas populations on remote islands were genetically distinct. Multiple serological assays reveal antibodies to henipaviruses and Lagos bat virus in all locations, including small isolated island populations, indicating that factors other than population size and connectivity may be responsible for viral persistence. Our findings have potentially important public health implications, and highlight a need to avoid disturbances that may precipitate viral spillover.

PMID:
24253424
PMCID:
PMC3836177
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms3770
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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