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      Reproduction and nutritional stress are risk factors for Hendra virus infection in little red flying foxes (Pteropus scapulatus)

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          Abstract

          Hendra virus (HeV) is a lethal paramyxovirus which emerged in humans in 1994. Poor understanding of HeV dynamics in Pteropus spp. (flying fox or fruit bat) reservoir hosts has limited our ability to determine factors driving its emergence. We initiated a longitudinal field study of HeV in little red flying foxes (LRFF; Pteropus scapulatus) and examined individual and population risk factors for infection, to determine probable modes of intraspecific transmission. We also investigated whether seasonal changes in host behaviour, physiology and demography affect host-pathogen dynamics. Data showed that pregnant and lactating females had significantly higher risk of infection, which may explain previously observed temporal associations between HeV outbreaks and flying fox birthing periods. Age-specific seroprevalence curves generated from field data imply that HeV is transmitted horizontally via faeces, urine or saliva. Rapidly declining seroprevalence between two field seasons suggests that immunity wanes faster in LRFF than in other flying fox species, and highlights the potentially critical role of this species in interspecific viral persistence. The highest seroprevalence was observed when animals showed evidence of nutritional stress, suggesting that environmental processes that alter flying fox food sources, such as habitat loss and climate change, may increase HeV infection and transmission. These insights into the ecology of HeV in flying fox populations suggest causal links between anthropogenic environmental change and HeV emergence.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife-- Threats to Biodiversity and Human Health

           P. Daszak (2000)
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            Ecological immunology: costly parasite defences and trade-offs in evolutionary ecology

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              A morbillivirus that caused fatal disease in horses and humans.

              A morbillivirus has been isolated and added to an increasing list of emerging viral diseases. This virus caused an outbreak of fatal respiratory disease in horses and humans. Genetic analyses show it to be only distantly related to the classic morbilliviruses rinderpest, measles, and canine distemper. When seen by electron microscopy, viruses had 10- and 18-nanometer surface projections that gave them a "double-fringed" appearance. The virus induced syncytia that developed in the endothelium of blood vessels, particularly the lungs.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Proc. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8452
                1471-2954
                January 15 2008
                April 07 2008
                January 15 2008
                April 07 2008
                : 275
                : 1636
                : 861-869
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of CaliforniaDavis, CA 95616, USA
                [2 ]Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory, Department of Primary Industries and FisheriesLocked Mailbag 4, Moorooka, Queensland 4105, Australia
                [3 ]Institute of Wildlife Research, University of SydneyNew South Wales 2006, Australia
                [4 ]Biodiversity Conservation Division, Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the ArtsPO Box 496, Palmerston, Northern Territory 0831, Australia
                [5 ]Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation InitiativePO Box 1587, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA
                [6 ]Consortium for Conservation Medicine460 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001, USA
                Article
                10.1098/rspb.2007.1260
                2596896
                18198149
                a426ebc8-3852-44af-bd9f-829670460549
                © 2008

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