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Evidence of endemic hendra virus infection in flying-foxes (pteropus conspicillatus)-implications for disease risk management

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Breed, A. C., Breed, M. F., Meers, J. and Field, H. E. (2011) Evidence of endemic hendra virus infection in flying-foxes (pteropus conspicillatus)-implications for disease risk management. PLoS ONE, 6 (12).


Article Link: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028816


This study investigated the seroepidemiology of Hendra virus in a spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) population in northern Australia, near the location of an equine and associated human Hendra virus infection in late 2004. The pattern of infection in the population was investigated using a serial cross-sectional serological study over a 25-month period, with blood sampled from 521 individuals over six sampling sessions. Antibody titres to the virus were determined by virus neutralisation test. In contrast to the expected episodic infection pattern, we observed that seroprevalence gradually increased over the two years suggesting infection was endemic in the population over the study period. Our results suggested age, pregnancy and lactation were significant risk factors for a detectable neutralizing antibody response. Antibody titres were significantly higher in females than males, with the highest titres occurring in pregnant animals. Temporal variation in antibody titres suggests that herd immunity to the virus may wax and wane on a seasonal basis. These findings support an endemic infection pattern of henipaviruses in bat populations suggesting their infection dynamics may differ significantly from the acute, self limiting episodic pattern observed with related viruses (e.g. measles virus, phocine distemper virus, rinderpest virus) hence requiring a much smaller critical host population size to sustain the virus. These findings help inform predictive modelling of henipavirus infection in bat populations, and indicate that the life cycle of the reservoir species should be taken into account when developing risk management strategies for henipaviruses. © 2011 Breed et al.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:neutralizing antibody virus antibody age antibody response antibody titer article bat blood sampling body weight controlled study disease association endemic disease female geographic distribution Hendra virus infection lactation male molecular dynamics molecular epidemiology nonhuman population size prediction pregnancy Pteropus conspicillatus risk assessment risk factor risk management seroprevalence sex difference virus detection virus neutralization aging animal animal disease Australia disease management epidemiology Hendra virus Henipavirus infection human immunology physiology reproduction sexual development time virology Animals Antibodies, Viral Chiroptera Endemic Diseases Henipavirus Infections Humans Queensland Risk Factors Seroepidemiologic Studies Sex Characteristics Time Factors
Subjects:Veterinary medicine > Veterinary virology
Veterinary medicine > Communicable diseases of animals (General)
Veterinary medicine > Other diseases and conditions
Live Archive:22 Mar 2019 00:35
Last Modified:22 Nov 2021 06:32

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