Ecological conditions predict the intensity of Hendra virus excretion over space and time from bat reservoir hosts
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Flying foxes that have gone without food or have moved into a new location are more likely to have the deadly Hendra virus in their droppings.
Bats often act as a bridge via which viruses can switch species. The ease at which transfer to humans occurs is thought to depend on the ecological conditions of bats, but it has been challenging to determine the ecological factors that facilitate this transfer.
Now, a team with two researchers from Griffith University in Australia has studied the Hendra virus — which is fatal to both horses and humans — in nine flying fox roosts over three years.
By comparing the ecological conditions of the bats with the amount of droppings contained the Hendra virus, they found that excrement of the virus peaked after food shortages and when flying foxes moved to a new location.
This information will be valuable for better estimating the risk of viruses spilling over to humans.
- Ecology Letters 26, 23–36 (2022). doi: 10.1111/ele.14007