Catalog Home Page

Infectious Disease Surveillance in the Woylie (Bettongia penicillata)

Skogvold, K., Warren, K.S., Jackson, B., Holyoake, C.S., Stalder, K., Devlin, J.M., Vitali, S.D., Wayne, A.F., Legione, A., Robertson, I. and Vaughan-Higgins, R.J. (2017) Infectious Disease Surveillance in the Woylie (Bettongia penicillata). EcoHealth, 14 (3). pp. 518-529.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Wild populations of the critically endangered woylie (Bettongia penicillata) recently declined by 90% in southwest Western Australia. Increased predation is the leading hypothesis for decline, but disease may be playing a role increasing susceptibility to predation. To explore this possibility, we surveyed woylie populations in the wild, in captivity and in a predator-free sanctuary for exposure to, and infection with, four known pathogens of macropods: herpesviruses, Wallal and Warrego orbiviruses, and Toxoplasma gondii. Our study found two of 68 individuals positive for neutralizing antibodies against known macropodid alphaherpesviruses. Three of 45 individuals were PCR positive for a herpesvirus that was shown to be a novel gammaherpesvirus or a new strain/variant of Potoroid Herpesvirus 1. Further sequence information is required to definitively determine its correct classification. There was no evidence of antibodies to orbivirus Wallal and Warrego serogroups, and all serological samples tested for T. gondii were negative. This is the first report of PCR and serological detection of herpesviruses in the woylie. Positive individuals did not demonstrate clinical signs of herpesviral diseases; therefore, the clinical significance of herpesviruses to wild woylie populations remains unclear. Further monitoring for herpesvirus infections will be important to inform disease risk analysis for this virus and determine temporal trends in herpesvirus activity that may relate to population health and conservation outcomes.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 2017 EcoHealth Alliance
Item Control Page Item Control Page