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Transmission of Japanese Encephalitis Virus from the Black Flying Fox, Pteropus alecto, to Culex annulirostris Mosquitoes, Despite the Absence of Detectable Viremia

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  • 1 Virology, Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services, Coopers Plains, Queensland, Australia; School of Chemical and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia; Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Animal Research Institute, Yeerongpilly, Queensland, Australia; Australian Army Malaria Institute, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland, Australia; Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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To determine the potential role of flying foxes in transmission cycles of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in Australia, we exposed Pteropus alecto (Megachiroptera: Pteropididae) to JEV via infected Culex annulirostris mosquitoes or inoculation. No flying foxes developed symptoms consistent with JEV infection. Anti-JEV IgG antibodies developed in 6/10 flying foxes exposed to infected Cx. annulirostris and in 5/5 inoculated flying foxes. Low-level viremia was detected by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction in 1/5 inoculated flying foxes and this animal was able to infect recipient mosquitoes. Although viremia was not detected in any of the 10 flying foxes that were exposed to JEV by mosquito bite, two animals infected recipient mosquitoes. Likewise, an inoculated flying fox without detectable viremia infected recipient mosquitoes. Although infection rates in recipient mosquitoes were low, the high population densities in roosting camps, coupled with migratory behavior indicate that flying foxes could play a role in the dispersal of JEV.

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