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First Hantavirus in a Fruit Bat

16 August 2016


More than 25 genetically distinct hantaviruses have been discovered in shrews and moles (order Eulipotyphla) in Eurasia, Africa and North America. More recently, divergent lineages of hantaviruses have been detected in insectivorous bats (order Chiroptera). Because some of these hantavirus-infected microbat species are classified in the same suborder (Yinpterochiroptera) as megabats (family Pteropodidae), we hypothesized that pteropid bats also harbored hantaviruses. Total RNA, extracted from RNAlater-preserved lung tissues of 376 fruit bats representing six genera, collected in the Republic of the Philippines from 2008 to 2013, was analyzed for hantavirus RNA by RT-PCR. Hantavirus RNA was detected in one of 15 Geoffroy’s rousettes (Rousettus amplexicaudatus), captured in Quezon Memorial National Park on Luzon Island in 2009. Phylogenetic analyses of the full-length S (1,830 bp), M (3,772 bp) and L segments (6,556 bp) showed that the newfound hantavirus, designated Quezon virus (QZNV), shared a common ancestry with hantaviruses hosted by insectivorous bats, in keeping with their evolutionary relationships. As the first hantavirus in a megabat, QZNV extends our knowledge about the reservoir host range. Moreover, finding hantaviruses in both suborders of Chiroptera suggests that ancestral bats may have served as the original mammalian hosts of primordial hantaviruses.