Research highlight

Virology: Identifying new human associated viruses in bats

Nature Communications

April 25, 2012

The identification of novel paramyxoviruses - which include measles and mumps in humans - in globally distributed bat and rodent species is reported in Nature Communications this week. By looking at the way this virus develops and spreads within these host species, this data could be used to help predict the emergence of new paramyxoviruses in humans and livestock.

Animals such as bats and rodents are known to be hosts of certain paramyxoviridae - a large virus family which is known to include several human and livestock viruses, such as measles, mumps and para-influenza-viruses. In this instance the animals harbour the pathogens for the viruses but exhibit no adverse effects. Christian Drosten and colleagues tested 119 bat and rodent species as potential animal reservoirs of many different paramyxoviruses. The team sequenced the viruses and compared features within species but across geographically regions. They found evidence of the Hendra and Nipah virus in Africa, as well as direct evidence of the Sendai virus in wild rodents, both of which have not previously been identified in these species. The study also identified a bat virus conspecific with the human mumps virus.

This work could prove useful in further investigating these viruses in mammals and learning more about evolutionary relationship between groups of mammalian Paramyxoviridae hosts.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1796

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