Temporal patterns of vampire bat rabies and host connectivity in Belize

Becker, D. J., Broos, A. , Bergner, L. , Meza, D. K. , Simmons, N. B., Fenton, M. B., Altizer, S. and Streicker, D. (2021) Temporal patterns of vampire bat rabies and host connectivity in Belize. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 68(2), pp. 870-879. (doi: 10.1111/tbed.13754) (PMCID:PMC8246562)

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In the Neotropics, vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus ) are the main reservoir host for rabies, a highly fatal encephalitis caused by viruses in the genus Lyssavirus . Although patterns of rabies virus exposure and infection have been well studied for vampire bats in South America and Mexico, exploring the ecology of vampire bat rabies in other regions is crucial for predicting risks to livestock and humans. In Belize, rabies outbreaks in livestock have increased in recent years, underscoring the need for systematic data on viral dynamics in vampire bats. In this study, we examine the first three years of a longitudinal study on the ecology of vampire bat rabies in northern Belize. Rabies seroprevalence in bats was high across years (29%–80%), suggesting active and endemic virus circulation. Across two locations, the seroprevalence time series per site were inversely related and out of phase by at least a year. Microsatellite data demonstrated historic panmixia of vampire bats, and mark–recapture detected rare but contemporary inter‐site dispersal. This degree of movement could facilitate spatial spread of rabies virus but is likely insufficient to synchronize infection dynamics, which offers one explanation for the observed phase lag in seroprevalence. More broadly, our analyses suggest frequent transmission of rabies virus within and among vampire bat roosts in northern Belize and highlight the need for future spatiotemporal, phylogenetic and ecological studies of vampire bat rabies in Central America.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding information: This work was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) DEB‐1601052, NSF DEB‐1020966, and grants awarded to DJB from the ARCS Foundation, the Odum School of Ecology, Sigma Xi, the American Society of Mammalogists, the Animal Behavior Society, the Explorer's Club, the UGA Graduate School, and the UGA Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute. DJB was also supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and by an appointment to the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program at Indiana University, administered by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. NBS was supported by the American Museum of Natural History Taxonomic Mammalogy Fund, and DGS was supported by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society (102507/Z/13/Z) and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (217221/Z/19/Z).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Broos, Ms Alice and Villa Meza, Miss Diana and Streicker, Professor Daniel and Bergner, Dr Laura
Authors: Becker, D. J., Broos, A., Bergner, L., Meza, D. K., Simmons, N. B., Fenton, M. B., Altizer, S., and Streicker, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
ISSN (Online):1865-1682
Published Online:27 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 68(2): 870-879
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
307106Epidemiology meets biotechnology: preventing viral emergence from batsDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)217221/Z/19/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine