Establishing Hematological Biomarkers of Health for Pteropus alecto

Dale Hansen & Brooklin Hunt, Raina Plowright, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Montana State University, Lewis Hall, 109, Bozeman, MT 59717

Over the past century, human activity has altered resource landscapes worldwide, changing the movement of animals and causing more frequent outbreaks of emerging zoonoses. Hosts of zoonoses vary, but bats, particularly Pteropid bats, have been implicated as the reservoir for many zoonoses. Among these emerging diseases is Hendra Virus (HeV) which emerged in Australia in 1994 and has a human case-fatality rate of 57%. Emerging viruses have serious implications for public health, and HeV in particular has been marked as an emerging virus of global concern. HeV circulates within multiple species of bats, however the black flying fox, Pteropus alecto, is the major species implicated in HeV spillover. Understanding the dynamics of spillover events requires an understanding of the host species, particularly health biomarkers. To date, only two limited studies have attempted to establish hematological biomarkers for P. alecto. This is a critical gap in our understanding of HeV spillover, and by providing an in-depth characterization of normal P. alecto hematology, we hope to build a foundation for future studies that will enhance our understanding of flying fox immune systems and the diseases they carry. Here we focus on two Australian P. alecto populations from 2018 through 2020. Blood samples were collected by collaborators at Griffith University and we are analyzing them at Montana State University. Analysis includes a standard leukocyte differential and estimating the ratio of leukocytes to erythrocytes. Using these methods, we provide an in-depth characterization of the normal hematological parameters for P. alecto. Additionally, we examine differences in leukocyte ranges between seasons, the two populations, and bats of differing physiological statuses. This study provides one of very few hematological analyses of P. alecto and moves us one step closer to being able to leverage hematology as a biomarker for bat health in the context of spillover events. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Dale Hansen, Brooklin Hunt

Institution: Montana State University

Type: Oral

Subject: Microbiology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 4
Date/Time: Tue 11:00am-12:00pm
Session Number: 427
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