What’s the risk? Identifying potential human pathogens within grey-headed flying foxes faeces

Rebekah Henry, Penelope Galbraith, Scott Coutts, Toby Prosser, John Boyce, David T. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Pteropus poliocephalus (grey-headed flying foxes) are recognised vectors for a range of potentially fatal human pathogens. However, to date research has primarily focused on viral disease carriage, overlooking bacterial pathogens, which also represent a significant human disease risk. The current study applied 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, community analysis and a multi-tiered database OTU picking approach to identify faecal-derived zoonotic bacteria within two colonies of P. poliocephalus from Victoria, Australia. Our data show that sequences associated with Enterobacteriaceae (62.8% ± 24.7%), Pasteurellaceae (19.9% ± 25.7%) and Moraxellaceae (9.4% ± 11.8%) dominate flying fox faeces. Further colony specific differences in bacterial faecal colonisation patterns were also identified. In total, 34 potential pathogens, representing 15 genera, were identified. However, species level definition was only possible for Clostridium perfringens, which likely represents a low infectious risk due to the low proportion observed within the faeces and high infectious dose required for transmission. In contrast, sequences associated with other pathogenic species clusters such as Haemophilus haemolyticus-H. influenzae and Salmonella bongori-S. enterica, were present at high proportions in the faeces, and due to their relatively low infectious doses and modes of transmissions, represent a greater potential human disease risk. These analyses of the microbial community composition of Pteropus poliocephalus have significantly advanced our understanding of the potential bacterial disease risk associated with flying foxes and should direct future epidemiological and quantitative microbial risk assessments to further define the health risks presented by these animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191301
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • fruit bats
  • sequence databases
  • bats
  • bacterial pathogens
  • microbiome
  • species diversity
  • ribosomal RNA
  • simpson index

Cite this

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title = "What’s the risk? Identifying potential human pathogens within grey-headed flying foxes faeces",
abstract = "Pteropus poliocephalus (grey-headed flying foxes) are recognised vectors for a range of potentially fatal human pathogens. However, to date research has primarily focused on viral disease carriage, overlooking bacterial pathogens, which also represent a significant human disease risk. The current study applied 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, community analysis and a multi-tiered database OTU picking approach to identify faecal-derived zoonotic bacteria within two colonies of P. poliocephalus from Victoria, Australia. Our data show that sequences associated with Enterobacteriaceae (62.8{\%} ± 24.7{\%}), Pasteurellaceae (19.9{\%} ± 25.7{\%}) and Moraxellaceae (9.4{\%} ± 11.8{\%}) dominate flying fox faeces. Further colony specific differences in bacterial faecal colonisation patterns were also identified. In total, 34 potential pathogens, representing 15 genera, were identified. However, species level definition was only possible for Clostridium perfringens, which likely represents a low infectious risk due to the low proportion observed within the faeces and high infectious dose required for transmission. In contrast, sequences associated with other pathogenic species clusters such as Haemophilus haemolyticus-H. influenzae and Salmonella bongori-S. enterica, were present at high proportions in the faeces, and due to their relatively low infectious doses and modes of transmissions, represent a greater potential human disease risk. These analyses of the microbial community composition of Pteropus poliocephalus have significantly advanced our understanding of the potential bacterial disease risk associated with flying foxes and should direct future epidemiological and quantitative microbial risk assessments to further define the health risks presented by these animals.",
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What’s the risk? Identifying potential human pathogens within grey-headed flying foxes faeces. / Henry, Rebekah; Galbraith, Penelope; Coutts, Scott; Prosser, Toby; Boyce, John; McCarthy, David T.

In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 13, No. 1, e0191301, 23.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - What’s the risk? Identifying potential human pathogens within grey-headed flying foxes faeces

AU - Henry, Rebekah

AU - Galbraith, Penelope

AU - Coutts, Scott

AU - Prosser, Toby

AU - Boyce, John

AU - McCarthy, David T.

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Y1 - 2018/1/23

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KW - sequence databases

KW - bats

KW - bacterial pathogens

KW - microbiome

KW - species diversity

KW - ribosomal RNA

KW - simpson index

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