Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Simon J. Anthony

Abstract

Wildlife disease surveillance has been increasing in recent years in an effort to identify and characterize novel emerging zoonoses. In particular, bats have been targets of active surveillance because of their recent associations with diseases of global public health importance, such as Ebola virus, SARS-like coronaviruses, and Nipah and Hendra virus. The high species richness, large population sizes, and frequent inter- and intra-species interactions of bats make them ideal reservoirs of infectious diseases. For this molecular epidemiological study, novel paramyxoviruses discovered through surveillance of bats in Brazil were fully sequenced to allow for a range of genetic analyses, including the construction of phylogenetic trees and cophylogenetic analysis. Three unique viruses are described, one in the genus Morbillivirus and two in a Morbillivirus-related clade. Cophylogenetic analysis with other recently described paramyxoviruses in bats indicates strong coevolution between viruses and their bat hosts, with host-switching events acting as an important driver of viral diversification. This finding supports the need for increased surveillance in areas with high bat species richness, such as Central and South America, which have been previously largely underrepresented in surveillance studies. While pathogenicity to humans and risk of emergence cannot be explicitly determined through genetic data alone, here it is argued that evolutionary history and knowledge of host-viral interactions can be valuable tools in inferring public health importance and supporting models of prediction in the future.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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