Serological evidence of widespread exposure of Grenada fruit bats to chikungunya virus
Summary Antibody detection against selected potentially zoonotic vector‐borne alphaviruses and flaviviruses was conducted on sera from bats from all six parishes in Grenada, West Indies. Sera were tested for (i) antibodies to flaviviruses West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, IlhEus virus, Bussuquara virus (BSQV), Rio Bravo virus and all four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV) by plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT); (ii) antibodies to alphaviruses western equine encephalitis virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and eastern equine encephalitis virus by epitope‐blocking enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); and (iii) antibodies to the alphavirus chikungunya (CHIKV) by PRNT. Two species of fruit bats were sampled, Artibeus jamaicensis and Artibeus lituratus , all roosting in or within 1,000 m of human settlements. Fifteen (36%) of the 42 bats tested for neutralizing antibodies to CHIKV were positive. The CHIKV‐seropositive bats lived in localities spanning five of the six parishes. All 43 bats tested for epitope‐blocking ELISA antibody to the other alphaviruses were negative, except one positive for Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. All 50 bats tested for neutralizing antibody to flaviviruses were negative, except one that had a BSQV PRNT 80 titre of 20. The CHIKV serology results indicate that bats living close to and within human settlements were exposed to CHIKV in multiple locations. Importantly, bats for this study were trapped a year after the introduction and peak of the human CHIKV epidemic in Grenada. Thus, our data indicate that bats were exposed to CHIKV possibly during a time of marked decline in human cases.
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