The Status of Lyssaviruses in Bats of Australia and Melanesia (APSF 18-6)

APSF 18-6 | Amount: $ 45,000 | Project Leader: J Meers | Project Period: Jul 2018 - Jul 2021

A collaborative project undertaken by the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science, and supervised by Prof. Joanne Meers

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) is the only known lyssavirus endemic to Oceania or the Pacific. Despite its emergence more than 20 years ago much remains unknown regarding ABLV epidemiology, particularly amongst microbat species. Given the geographic continuity of lyssaviruses with bat hosts around the world it is likely that additional ABLV or novel lyssaviruses may circulate amongst bat species in Australia and the Pacific region.

Figure 1. Melanesian bat speciments. Brain tissue is collected from bat specimens provided by wildlife carers and researchers to test for ABLV or novel lyssavirus infection.

This project aims to shed light on the status of lyssaviruses in Australia and the Pacific region by:

  1. Ongoing surveillance of Australian microbats for evidence of lyssavirus infection to determine whether additional microbat hosts and/or novel lyssaviruses exist, particularly in regional and remote areas
  2. Testing flying fox serum samples collected in Cape York, the Torres Strait Islands, and Papua New Guinea for ABLV neutralizing antibodies
  3. Utilizing museum bat specimens from Melanesia to test for evidence of ABLV or novel lyssaviruses

This project addresses several gaps in knowledge regarding lyssavirus epidemiology in the region with implications for human and animal health, biosecurity, and travel medicine.

Research/Supervisory Team and Collaborators
Prof. Joanne Meers (University of Queensland)
Dr Hume Field (University of Queensland)
Dr Lee Skerratt (University of Melbourne)
Dr Craig Smith (Biosecurity Queensland)
Dr Tyrone Lavery (University of Kansas)
Dr John Bingham (CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory)
Alison Höger (University of Queensland, PhD candidate)