Herpesviruses have been detected in bat species from several countries, with a limited number of studies examining herpesviruses in Pteropus spp. (flying foxes) and no investigation of herpesviruses in Australian flying foxes. We examined the presence and prevalence of herpesviruses in the four mainland Australian flying fox species. A nested PCR targeting highly conserved amino acid motifs in the DNA polymerase (DPOL) gene of herpesviruses was used to analyze 564 samples collected from 514 individual Pteropus scapulatus, Pteropus poliocephalus, Pteropus alecto, and Pteropus conspicillatus. The prevalence of herpesvirus DNA in blood, urine, oral, and fecal swabs from the four species was 17% in P. scapulatus, 11% in P. poliocephalus, 10% in P. alecto, and 9% in P. conspicillatus (31% in P. conspicillatus spleen tissue). Five putative novel herpesviruses were detected. Following PCR amplicon sequence analysis, four of the herpesviruses grouped phylogenetically with the gammaherpesviruses, with nucleotide identities between 79% and 90% to gammaherpesviruses from Asian megabats. A betaherpesvirus was detected in P. scapulatus with 99% nucleotide identity to the partial DPOL gene sequence of an Indonesian fruit bat betaherpesvirus. This study lays the foundation for future epidemiology research of herpesviruses in Australian Pteropus spp. and adds to the discussion of hypotheses surrounding the evolutionary epidemiology of bat-borne viruses on a global scale.

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