Spatial expansions and travelling waves of rabies in vampire bats

Benavides, J. A., Valderrama, W. and Streicker, D. (2016) Spatial expansions and travelling waves of rabies in vampire bats. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 283(1832), 20160328. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0328) (PMCID:PMC4920313)

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A major obstacle to anticipating the cross-species transmission of zoonotic diseases and developing novel strategies for their control is the scarcity of data informing how these pathogens circulate within natural reservoir populations. Vampire bats are the primary reservoir of rabies in Latin America, where the disease remains among the most important viral zoonoses affecting humans and livestock. Unpredictable spatiotemporal dynamics of rabies within bat populations have precluded anticipation of outbreaks and undermined widespread bat culling programs. By analysing 1146 vampire bat-transmitted rabies (VBR) outbreaks in livestock across 12 years in Peru, we demonstrate that viral expansions into historically uninfected zones have doubled the recent burden of VBR. Viral expansions are geographically widespread, but severely constrained by high elevation peaks in the Andes mountains. Within Andean valleys, invasions form wavefronts that are advancing towards large, unvaccinated livestock populations that are heavily bitten by bats, which together will fuel high transmission and mortality. Using spatial models, we forecast the pathways of ongoing VBR epizootics across heterogeneous landscapes. These results directly inform vaccination strategies to mitigate impending viral emergence, reveal VBR as an emerging rather than an enzootic disease and create opportunities to test novel interventions to manage viruses in bat reservoirs.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Benavides, Dr Julio and Streicker, Dr Daniel
Authors: Benavides, J. A., Valderrama, W., and Streicker, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society Publishing
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Published Online:08 June 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 283(1832):20160328
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
634192Managing viral emergence at the interface of bats and livestockDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)102507/Z/13/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED