Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Longitudinal Survey of Coronavirus Circulation and Diversity in Insectivorous Bat Colonies in Zimbabwe

Version 1 : Received: 21 March 2022 / Approved: 23 March 2022 / Online: 23 March 2022 (02:55:01 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Chidoti, V.; De Nys, H.; Pinarello, V.; Mashura, G.; Missé, D.; Guerrini, L.; Pfukenyi, D.; Cappelle, J.; Chiweshe, N.; Ayouba, A.; Matope, G.; Peeters, M.; Gori, E.; Bourgarel, M.; Liégeois, F. Longitudinal Survey of Coronavirus Circulation and Diversity in Insectivorous Bat Colonies in Zimbabwe. Viruses 2022, 14, 781. Chidoti, V.; De Nys, H.; Pinarello, V.; Mashura, G.; Missé, D.; Guerrini, L.; Pfukenyi, D.; Cappelle, J.; Chiweshe, N.; Ayouba, A.; Matope, G.; Peeters, M.; Gori, E.; Bourgarel, M.; Liégeois, F. Longitudinal Survey of Coronavirus Circulation and Diversity in Insectivorous Bat Colonies in Zimbabwe. Viruses 2022, 14, 781.

Journal reference: Viruses 2022, 14, 781
DOI: 10.3390/v14040781

Abstract

Background: Studies have linked bats to outbreaks in human populations such as SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV and the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Method: We carried out a longitudinal survey from August 2020 to July 2021 at two sites in Zimbabwe with bat-human interactions: Magweto cave and Chirundu farm. A total 1732 and 1866 individual bat faecal samples were collected respectively. Coronaviruses and bat species were amplified using PCR systems respectively. Results: Analysis of the coronavirus sequences revealed a high genetic diversity and we identified different sub-viral groups in the Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus genus. The established sub-viral groups fell within the described Alphacoronavirus sub-genera: Decacovirus, Duvinacovirus, Rhinacovirus, Setracovirus and Minunacovirus and for Betacoronavirus sub-genera: Sarbecoviruses, Merbecovirus and Hibecovirus. Our results showed an overall proportion for CoV positive PCR tests of 23.7% at Chirundu site, 16.5% and 38.9% at Magweto site for small insectivorous bats and Macronycteris gigas respectively. Conclusion: The higher risk of bat coronaviruses exposure for humans ranged from December to March in relation to higher viral shedding peaks of coronaviruses in the parturition, lactation and weaning months of the bat populations at both sites. We also highlight the need to further document viral infectious risk in human/domestic animal populations surrounding bat habitats in Zimbabwe.

Keywords

Bat Coronavirus (Bt CoVs); human-bat interaction; genetic diversity; reproductive phenology; Zimbabwe

Subject

BIOLOGY, Other

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