The genetic diversity of Nipah virus across spatial scales.

Cortes-Azuero O Lefrancq N Nikolay B McKee C Cappelle J Hul V Ou TP Hoem T Lemey P Rahman MZ Islam A Gurley ES Duong V Salje H
The Journal of infectious diseases 2024 Apr 29; . doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiae221. Epub 2024 04 29
Nipah virus Pteropus bats disease modelling emerging pathogens phylogenetics


BACKGROUND: Nipah virus (NiV), a highly lethal virus in humans, circulates in Pteropus bats throughout South and Southeast Asia. Difficulty in obtaining viral genomes from bats means we have a poor understanding of NiV diversity.

METHODS: We develop phylogenetic approaches applied to the most comprehensive collection of genomes to date (N=257, 175 from bats, 73 from humans) from six countries over 22 years (1999-2020). We divide the four major NiV sublineages into 15 genetic clusters. Using Approximate Bayesian Computation fit to a spatial signature of viral diversity, we estimate the presence and the average size of genetic clusters per area.

RESULTS: We find that, within any bat roost, there are an average of 2.4 co-circulating genetic clusters, rising to 5.5 clusters at areas of 1500-2000km2. We estimate that each genetic cluster occupies an average area of 1.3million km2 (95%CI: 0.6-2.3 million), with 14 clusters in an area of 100,000km2 (95%CI: 6-24). In the few sites in Bangladesh and Cambodia where genomic surveillance has been concentrated, we estimate that most clusters have been identified, but only ∼15% of overall NiV diversity has been uncovered.

CONCLUSION: Our findings are consistent with entrenched co-circulation of distinct lineages, even within roosts, coupled with slow migration over larger spatial scales.

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America.