Characterization of Experimental Oro-Nasal Inoculation of Seba’s Short-Tailed Bats (Carollia perspicillata) with Bat Influenza A Virus H18N11
In 2012 and 2013, the genomic sequences of two novel influenza A virus (IAV) subtypes, designated H17N10 and H18N11, were identified via next-generation sequencing in the feces of the little yellow-shouldered fruit bat (Sturnira lilium) and the flat-faced fruit-eating bat (Artibeus planirostris), respectively. The pathogenesis caused by these viruses in their respective host species is currently insufficiently understood, which is primarily due to the inability to obtain and keep these bat species under appropriate environmental and biosafety conditions. Seba’s short-tailed bats (Carollia perspicillata), in contrast, are close relatives and a natural H18N11 reservoir species, with the advantage of established animal husbandry conditions in academic research. To study viral pathogenesis in more detail, we here oro-nasally inoculated Seba’s short-tailed bats with the bat IAV H18N11 subtype. Following inoculation, bats appeared clinically healthy, but the histologic examination of tissues revealed a mild necrotizing rhinitis. Consistently, IAV-matrix protein and H18-RNA positive cells were seen in lesioned respiratory and olfactory nasal epithelia, as well as in intestinal tissues. A RT-qPCR analysis confirmed viral replication in the conchae and intestines as well as the presence of viral RNA in the excreted feces, without horizontal transmission to naïve contact animals. Moreover, all inoculated animals seroconverted with low titers of neutralizing antibodies.