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The genetic diversity of Nipah virus across spatial scales.

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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.



Nipah virus, Pteropus, bats, disease modelling, emerging pathogens, phylogenetics

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J Infect Dis

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
EPSRC (EP/T022159/1)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) ERC (804744)