Urban habituation, ecological connectivity and epidemic dampening: The emergence of hendra virus from flying foxes (Pteropus spp.)

Raina K. Plowright, Patrick Foley, Hume E. Field, Andy P. Dobson, Janet E Foley, Peggy Eby, Peter Daszak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

177 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anthropogenic environmental change is often implicated in the emergence of new zoonoses from wildlife; however, there is little mechanistic understanding of these causal links. Here, we examine the transmission dynamics of an emerging zoonotic paramyxovirus, Hendra virus (HeV), in its endemic host, Australian Pteropus bats (fruit bats or flying foxes). HeV is a biosecurity level 4 (BSL-4) pathogen, with a high case-fatality rate in humans and horses. With models parametrized from field and laboratory data, we explore a set of probable contributory mechanisms that explain the spatial and temporal pattern of HeV emergence; including urban habituation and decreased migration-two widely observed changes in flying fox ecology that result from anthropogenic transformation of bat habitat in Australia. Urban habituation increases the number of flying foxes in contact with human and domestic animal populations, and our models suggest that, in addition, decreased bat migratory behaviour could lead to a decline in population immunity, giving rise to more intense outbreaks after local viral reintroduction. Ten of the 14 known HeV outbreaks occurred near urbanized or sedentary flying fox populations, supporting these predictions. We also demonstrate that by incorporating waning maternal immunity into our models, the peak modelled prevalence coincides with the peak annual spill-over hazard for HeV. These results provide the first detailed mechanistic framework for understanding the sporadic temporal pattern of HeV emergence, and of the urban/peri-urban distribution of HeV outbreaks in horses and people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3703-3712
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume278
Issue number1725
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 22 2011

Fingerprint

Hendra Virus
Hendra virus
Pteropus
Pteropodidae
habituation
Viruses
connectivity
virus
bat
Chiroptera
Disease Outbreaks
horse
immunity
Zoonoses
Horses
Respirovirus
Immunity
horses
migratory behavior
maternal immunity

Keywords

  • Bat virus
  • Connectivity
  • Flying fox
  • Hendra virus
  • Metapopulation disease model
  • Pteropus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Urban habituation, ecological connectivity and epidemic dampening : The emergence of hendra virus from flying foxes (Pteropus spp.). / Plowright, Raina K.; Foley, Patrick; Field, Hume E.; Dobson, Andy P.; Foley, Janet E; Eby, Peggy; Daszak, Peter.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 278, No. 1725, 22.12.2011, p. 3703-3712.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Plowright, Raina K. ; Foley, Patrick ; Field, Hume E. ; Dobson, Andy P. ; Foley, Janet E ; Eby, Peggy ; Daszak, Peter. / Urban habituation, ecological connectivity and epidemic dampening : The emergence of hendra virus from flying foxes (Pteropus spp.). In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2011 ; Vol. 278, No. 1725. pp. 3703-3712.
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