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Polychromophilus melanipherus and haemoplasma infections not associated with clinical signs in southern bent-winged bats (Miniopterus orianae bassanii) and eastern bent-winged bats (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis)

Holz, Peter H., Lumsden, Linda F., Legione, Alistair R., Hufschmid, Jasmin
International journal for parasitology 2019 v.8 pp. 10-18
Chiroptera, Mycoplasma, blood composition, body weight, hemoparasites, infectious diseases, pathogens, polymerase chain reaction, probability, signs and symptoms (animals and humans), sympatry, South Australia
While bats are often viewed as carriers of infectious disease agents, little research has been conducted on the effects these pathogens may have on the bat populations themselves. The southern bent-winged bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii) is a critically endangered subspecies endemic to south-eastern Australia. Population numbers of this bat have declined over the past 50 years, but the reasons for this are unclear. As part of a larger study to determine if disease could be a contributing factor to this decline, southern bent-winged bats from several locations in Victoria and South Australia were captured and examined for the presence of the blood parasite, Polychromophilus melanipherus, and haemoplasmas (Mycoplasma sp.). Results were compared with those obtained from populations of the more common, partially sympatric, eastern bent-winged bat (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis) from three different locations in Victoria. Both organisms were found in both subspecies (prevalence of P. melanipherus 60% by PCR for southern bent-winged bats compared with 46% for eastern bent-winged bats; prevalence of haemoplasmas 10% for southern bent-winged bats compared with 8% for eastern bent-winged bats), with no association between the probability of infection, body weight, abnormal blood parameters or any other indicators of ill health. However, Victorian southern bent-winged bats had heavier burdens of P. melanipherus than both the South Australian southern bent-winged bats and eastern bent-winged bats. Further investigations are required to determine if these differences are impacting population health.