Bats are important reservoirs for many zoonotic pathogens. However, no surveys of bacterial pathogens in bats have been performed in the Caucasus region. To understand the occurrence and distribution of bacterial infections in these mammals, 218 bats belonging to eight species collected from four regions of Georgia were examined for Bartonella, Brucella, Leptospira, and Yersinia using molecular approaches. Bartonella DNA was detected in 77 (35%) bats from all eight species and was distributed in all four regions. The prevalence ranged 6-50% per bat species. The Bartonella DNA represented 25 unique genetic variants that clustered into 21 lineages. Brucella DNA was detected in two Miniopterus schreibersii bats and in two Myotis blythii bats, all of which were from Imereti (west-central region). Leptospira DNA was detected in 25 (13%) bats that included four M. schreibersii bats and 21 M. blythii bats collected from two regions. The Leptospira sequences represented five genetic variants with one of them being closely related to the zoonotic pathogen L. interrogans (98.6% genetic identity). No Yersinia DNA was detected in the bats. Mixed infections were observed in several cases. One M. blythii bat and one M. schreibersii bat were co-infected with Bartonella, Brucella, and Leptospira; one M. blythii bat and one M. schreibersii bat were co-infected with Bartonella and Brucella; 15 M. blythii bats and three M. schreibersii bats were co-infected with Bartonella and Leptospira. Our results suggest that bats in Georgia are exposed to multiple bacterial infections. Further studies are needed to evaluate pathogenicity of these agents to bats and their zoonotic potential.
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