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Reassortant Group A Rotavirus from Bat | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Reassortant Group A Rotavirus from Straw-colored Fruit Bat (Eidolon helvum)

Mathew D. Esona, Slavica Mijatovic-Rustempasic, Christina Conrardy, Suxiang Tong, Ivan V. Kuzmin, Bernard Agwanda, Robert F. Breiman, Krisztian Banyai, Michael Niezgoda, Charles E. Rupprecht, Jon R. Gentsch, and Michael D. Bowen Comments to Author
Author affilations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (M.D. Esona, S. Mijatovic-Rustempasic, C. Conrardy, S. Tong , I.V. Kuzmin, M. Niezgoda, C.E. Rupprecht, J.R. Gentsch, M.D. Bowen); National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya (B. Agwanda); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–Kenya, Nairobi (R.F. Breiman); and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary (K. Banyai)

Suggested citation for this article

Bats are known reservoirs of viral zoonoses. We report genetic characterization of a bat rotavirus (Bat/KE4852/07) detected in the feces of a straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum). Six bat rotavirus genes (viral protein [VP] 2, VP6, VP7, nonstructural protein [NSP] 2, NSP3, and NSP5) shared ancestry with other mammalian rotaviruses but were distantly related. The VP4 gene was nearly identical to that of human P[6] rotavirus strains, and the NSP4 gene was closely related to those of previously described mammalian rotaviruses, including human strains. Analysis of partial sequence of the VP1 gene indicated that it was distinct from cognate genes of other rotaviruses. No sequences were obtained for the VP3 and NSP1 genes of the bat rotavirus. This rotavirus was designated G25-P[6]-I15-R8(provisional)-C8-Mx-Ax-N8-T11-E2-H10. Results suggest that several reassortment events have occurred between human, animal, and bat rotaviruses. Several additional rotavirus strains were detected in bats.

Rotaviruses are members of the family Reoviridae and genus Rotavirus and contain 3 primary species: Rotavirus A, Rotavirus B, and Rotavirus C (1). The rotavirus genome contains 11 segments of double-stranded RNA encoding 6 structural viral proteins (VP1–VP4, VP6, and VP7) and 6 nonstructural proteins (NSP1–NSP6). Rotavirus A strains are associated with acute infectious diarrhea in humans and animals (2). The segmented nature of rotavirus genomes enables reassortment events in which novel rotavirus strains are produced with new combinations of genome segments derived from parental virus strains (3). Reassortment is a major mechanism for generating genetic diversity of rotaviruses and driving rotavirus evolution. New rotavirus strains emerge every year as a result of genomic reassortment among cocirculating rotaviruses. Although most rotaviruses appear to be host restricted, interspecies transmission of rotaviruses has been documented (4–8). Recently, new genotypes found in a variety of animals have been reported (9). Thus, monitoring rotaviruses in domesticated and wild animals can potentially identify emerging human and veterinary pathogens.

Species A rotaviruses have been traditionally classified by using a binomial nomenclature based on serotype and genotype specificities of the outer capsid antigens, VP7 (G-type) and VP4 (P-type). Recently, Matthijnssens et al. (10) proposed a classification system based on all 11 genome segments (4,7,10). This scheme uses specific nucleotide sequence identity cutoff values for the complete open reading frame (ORF) of each gene segment to delineate genotypes, and new genotypes are formally assigned by the Rotavirus Classification Working Group (RCWG) (10).

Bats of many species are being recognized as reservoir hosts for viruses that can cross species barriers to infect humans (11). Such viruses include Ebola and Marburg viruses, Nipah and Hendra viruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome–like coronavirus, rabies and other lyssaviruses, togaviruses, flaviviruses, bunyaviruses, and members of the family Reoviridae (11–13). The straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum, family Pteropodidae, order Chiroptera) (11) is widely distributed and ranges from the southwestern Arabian Peninsula to the forest and savanna zones (south of the Sahara Desert) and offshore islands of Africa. Detection of Lagos bat virus (Lyssavirus) (14) and Ife virus (Orbivirus) (15) in E. helvum bats demonstrates their potential as reservoirs of viruses that cause zoonotic diseases. Rotaviruses have not been detected in bats, although other viruses in the family Reoviridae have been detected in bats (11).

The purpose of this study was to examine E. helvum bats for rotaviruses and characterize any strains found. We detected a novel rotavirus A species in E. helvum bats. This isolate contained a VP4 gene that probably originated from a human rotavirus, an NSP4 gene of likely human or animal rotavirus origin, and otherwise a unique genetic background requiring establishment of new genotypes for at least 7 genes.

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Reassortant Group A Rotavirus from Bat | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article

Esona MD, Mijatovic-Rustempasic S, Conrardy C, Tong S, Kuzmin IV, Agwanda B, et al. Reassortant group A rotavirus from straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum). Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet].
2010 Dec [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1612.101089

Comments to the Authors

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Michael D. Bowen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop G04, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA; email:

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