Sep. 26, 2013 — A new approach to rabies virus epidemiology in bats shows that the risk of infection is higher in large and multispecies colonies. The research, published on the journal PLOS ONE, has been led by Jordi Serra Cobo, professor from the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), both affiliated centres with the campus of international excellence BKC. The article is also signed by experts Jacint Nadal and Marc López Roig (UB-IRBio), Miquel Borràs (Barcelona Science Park), Magdalena Seguí (Research Center in Viral Infections, CRIVIB), Luisa Pilar Sánchez (Institute of Health Carlos III), and Rachel Lavenir and Hervé Bourhy (Institut Pasteur).
It is the first time that a research analyses ecological factors that might affect the infection dynamics of the rabies virus in bat colonies. Between 2001 and 2011, 2,393 blood samples were collected from 20 bats species and 25 localities in Catalonia, Aragon and Balearic Islands. The research is centred on the detection of European bat lyssavirus 1 (EBL1), one of the twelve different groups of the genus Lyssavirus related to rabies, an emergent zoonosis that affects mammals all over the world.
Jordi Serra Cobo, who also leads the Biology and Biotechnology Club of Alumni UB, explains that "EBLV-1 seroprevalence is strongly affected by colony size and species richness. Previous studies have analysed other aspects such as the seasonal variability. Ecological factors play a relevant role in seroprevalence variability, but they were to date unknown."