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The non-human reservoirs of Ross River virus: a systematic review of the evidence

Stephenson, Eloise B., Peel, Alison J., Reid, Simon A., Jansen, Cassie C., McCallum, Hamish
Parasites & vectors 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 188
Metatheria, Ross River virus, arboviruses, birds, disease control, humans, pathogens, systematic review, Australia
Understanding the non-human reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens is critical for effective disease control, but identifying the relative contributions of the various reservoirs of multi-host pathogens is challenging. For Ross River virus (RRV), knowledge of the transmission dynamics, in particular the role of non-human species, is important. In Australia, RRV accounts for the highest number of human mosquito-borne virus infections. The long held dogma that marsupials are better reservoirs than placental mammals, which are better reservoirs than birds, deserves critical review. We present a review of 50 years of evidence on non-human reservoirs of RRV, which includes experimental infection studies, virus isolation studies and serosurveys. We find that whilst marsupials are competent reservoirs of RRV, there is potential for placental mammals and birds to contribute to transmission dynamics. However, the role of these animals as reservoirs of RRV remains unclear due to fragmented evidence and sampling bias. Future investigations of RRV reservoirs should focus on quantifying complex transmission dynamics across environments.