Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Infection with Menangle virus in flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) in Australia.

Abstract

Objective: To examine flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) for evidence of infection with Menangle virus. Design: Clustered non-random sampling for serology, virus isolation and electron microscopy (EM). Procedure: Serum samples were collected from 306 Pteropus spp. in northern and eastern Australia and tested for antibodies against Menangle virus (MenV) using a virus neutralization test (VNT). Virus isolation was attempted from tissues and faeces collected from 215 Pteropus spp. in New South Wales. Faecal samples from 68 individual Pteropus spp. and four pools of faeces were examined by transmission EM following routine negative staining and immunogold labelling. Results: neutralizing antibodies (VNT titres ≥8) against MenV were detected in 46% of black flying foxes (P. alecto), 41% of grey-headed flying foxes (P. poliocephalus), 25% of spectacled flying foxes (P. conspicillatus) and 1% of little red flying foxes (P. scapulatus) in Australia. Positive sera included samples collected from P. poliocephalus in a colony adjacent to a piggery that had experienced reproductive disease caused by MenV. Virus-like particles were observed by EM in faeces from Pteropus spp. and reactivity was detected in pooled faeces and urine by immunogold EM using sera from sows that had been exposed to MenV. Attempts to isolate the virus from the faeces and tissues from Pteropus spp. were unsuccessful. Conclusion: Serological evidence of infection with MenV was detected in Pteropus spp. in Australia. Although virus-like particles were detected in faeces, no viruses were isolated from faeces, urine or tissues of Pteropus spp.