Hendra Virus Infection Dynamics in the Grey-Headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) at the Southern-Most Extent of Its Range: Further Evidence This Species Does Not Readily Transmit the Virus to Horses.PLoS One. 2016; 11(6):e0155252.Plos
Hendra virus (HeV) is an important emergent virus in Australia known to infect horses and humans in certain regions of the east coast. Whilst pteropid bats ("flying foxes") are considered the natural reservoir of HeV, which of the four mainland species is the principal reservoir has been a source of ongoing debate, particularly as shared roosting is common. To help resolve this, we sampled a colony consisting of just one of these species, the grey-headed flying fox, (Pteropus poliocephalus), at the southernmost extent of its range. Using the pooled urine sampling technique at approximately weekly intervals over a two year period, we determined the prevalence of HeV and related paramyxoviruses using a novel multiplex (Luminex) platform. Whilst all the pooled urine samples were negative for HeV nucleic acid, we successfully identified four other paramyxoviruses, including Cedar virus; a henipavirus closely related to HeV. Collection of serum from individually caught bats from the colony showed that antibodies to HeV, as estimated by a serological Luminex assay, were present in between 14.6% and 44.5% of animals. The wide range of the estimate reflects uncertainties in interpreting intermediate results. Interpreting the study in the context of HeV studies from states to the north, we add support for an arising consensus that it is the black flying fox and not the grey-headed flying fox that is the principal source of HeV in spillover events to horses.