Bloomberg — Ebola Antibodies in Zambia Bats Match West African Virus

By Matthew Hill

(Bloomberg) — Ebola antibodies found in bats in Zambia seem to show that the species of the disease they have been exposed to match outbreaks as far as 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) away, including the one that’s killed more than 10,000 people in West Africa.

A study, conducted by scientists including Hokkaido University’s Professor Ayato Takada and published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases last week, found the transition of the antibodies for the virus family that includes Ebola coincided with flare-ups in humans from 2005 to 2013. Data for 2014 is still being analyzed.
Scientists are still analyzing samples from last year so they cannot definitively say they coincide with the latest Ebola outbreak, Takada said.

The study explores the theory that straw-colored fruitbats become infected with Ebola from natural reservoirs in central Africa but don’t carry the actual virus to Zambia. Alternatively, it hypothesizes that the bats themselves act as the reservoirs from which outbreaks into human populations periodically occur. In addition to primates, filoviruses such as Ebola can infect dogs, pigs and duikers, a small species of antelope. Conclusive evidence of either of the hypotheses wasn’t found.

Jungle Reservoir
“I do not believe that this bat species serves as a natural reservoir of filoviruses, but our serology data suggest that they can be infected,” Takada said in reply to e-mailed questions on Thursday. “This further suggests that they might have a chance to contact with authentic natural hosts of filoviruses somewhere central Africa.”

Click HERE for the complete article.

Sky News Australia — Deadly bat lyssavirus detected in NT

Northern Territory residents and visitors are being warned not to handle bats after a flying fox tested positive to the deadly Australian bat lyssavirus.

This is the second bat to test positive in a matter of months and only the third case for the Northern Territory since the first was detected in 1997.

Found Australia-wide, the virus is very similar to rabies, and symptoms include severe headaches and convulsions, before it paralyses breathing and causes a fatal brain inflammation.

All three people who have contracted the virus, in Queensland, have died.

The infected flying fox was under the care of a bat carer when it became sick and died, said Malcolm Anderson, the NT’s chief veterinary officer.

‘The disease, like rabies, can have a very long incubation period, so it can be in an animal for a long time before they show signs … six months or 12 months,’ he said.

. . .

Click HERE for the complete article.

Comparative Analysis of Bat Genomes Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flight and Immunity


Guojie Zhang,1,2*† Christopher Cowled,3Zhengli Shi,4 Zhiyong Huang,1 Kimberly A. Bishop-Lilly, Xiaodong Fang,1 James W. Wynne,3 Zhiqiang Xiong,1 Michelle L. Baker,3 Wei Zhao,1 Mary Tachedjian,3 Yabing Zhu,1 Peng Zhou,3,4 Xuanting Jiang,1 Justin Ng,3 Lan Yang,1 Lijun Wu,4 Jin Xiao,1 Yue Feng,1 Yuanxin Chen,1 Xiaoqing Sun,1 Yong Zhang,1 Glenn A. Marsh,3 Gary Crameri,3 Christopher C. Broder,6 Kenneth G. Frey,5
Lin-Fa Wang,3,7† Jun Wang1,8,9

Bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight and are notorious reservoir hosts for some of the world’s most highly pathogenic viruses, including Nipah, Hendra, Ebola, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). To identify genetic changes associated with the development of bat-specific traits, we performed whole-genome sequencing and comparative analyses of two distantly related species, fruit bat Pteropus alecto and insectivorous bat Myotis davidii. We discovered an unexpected concentration of positively selected genes in the DNA damage checkpoint and nuclear factor kB pathways that may be related to the origin of flight, as well as expansion and contraction of important gene families. Comparison of bat genomes with other mammalian species has provided new insights into bat biology and evolution.

. . .

The most conspicuous feature of bats, distinguishing them from all other mammalian species, is the capacity for sustained flight. Positive selection in the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathway suggests that increased metabolic capacity played a key role in its evolution (3), yet the by-products of oxidative metabolism [such as reactive oxygen species (ROS)] can produce harmful side effects including DNA damage (4). We hypothesize that genetic changes during the evolution of flight in bats likely included adaptations to limit collateral damage caused by by-products of elevated metabolic rate. Another phenomenon that has sparked intense interest in recent years is the discovery that bats maintain and disseminate numerous deadly viruses (5). In this context, we further hypothesize that the long-term coexistence of bats and viruses must have imposed strong selective pressures on the bat genome, and the genes most likely to reflect this are those directly related to the first line of antiviral defense—the innate immune system.

. . .

In summary, comparative analysis of P. alecto and M. davidii genomes has provided insight into the phylogenetic placement of bats and has revealed evidence of genetic changes that may have contributed to their evolution. Gene duplication events played a particularly prominent role in the evolution of Myotis bats and may have helped contribute to their speciation. Concentration of positively selected genes in the DNA damage checkpoint pathway in bats may indicate an important step in the evolution of flight, whereas evidence of change in components shared by the DNA damage pathway and the innate immune system raises the interesting possibility that flight-induced adaptations have had inadvertent effects on bat immune function and possibly also life expectancy (24). The data generated by this study will help to address major gaps in our understanding of bat biology and to provide new directions for future research.

Click HERE for the complete article.
Comparative Analysis of Bat Genomes Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flight and Immunity

How often do bats live over ten years?

A Japanese study found that
“Females less than two years of age constituted the majority of the members in the relatively large-sized A and B colonies investigated by the banding-recapture method, whereas older females, and males more than one year of age decreased rapidly.”

For the complete study, please see:
Age Composition of Summer Colonies in the Japanese House-dwelling Bat, Pipistrellus abramus
Kimitake Funakoshif’ and Teru Aki Uchida