Investigation of the Climatic and Environmental Context of Hendra Virus Spillover Events 1994–2010

Rosemary MCFARLANE, Niels Becker, Hume Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Hendra virus is a recently emerged bat-borne zoonotic agent with high lethality in horses and humans in Australia. This is a rare disease and the determinants of bat to horse transmission, including the factors that bring these hosts together at critical times, are poorly understood. In this cross-disciplinary study climatic and vegetation primary productivity variables are compared for the dispersed and heterogenic 1994–2010 outbreak sites. The significant occurrence of spillover events within the dry season (p =  0.013, 95% CI (0.57–0.98)) suggests seasonal forcing of transmission across species, or seasonal forcing of virus excretion by the reservoir host. We explore the evidence for both. Preliminary investigations of the spatial determinants of Hendra disease locations are also presented. We find that postal areas in the Australian state of Queensland in which pteropid fruit bat (flying fox) roosts occur are approximately forty times more likely (OR = 40.5, (95% CI (5.16, 317.52)) to be the location of Hendra spillover events. This appears to be independent of density of horses at these locations. We consider issues of scale of host resource use, land use change and limitations of existing data that challenge analysis and limit further conclusive outcomes. This investigation of a broad range of potential climatic and environmental influences provides a good base for future investigations. Further understanding of cross-species Hendra virus transmission requires better understanding of flying fox resource use in the urban-rural landscape
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28374
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

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