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1.  Evolutionary History of Rabies in Ghana 
Rabies virus (RABV) is enzootic throughout Africa, with the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) being the principal vector. Dog rabies is estimated to cause 24,000 human deaths per year in Africa, however, this estimate is still considered to be conservative. Two sub-Saharan African RABV lineages have been detected in West Africa. Lineage 2 is present throughout West Africa, whereas Africa 1a dominates in northern and eastern Africa, but has been detected in Nigeria and Gabon, and Africa 1b was previously absent from West Africa. We confirmed the presence of RABV in a cohort of 76 brain samples obtained from rabid animals in Ghana collected over an eighteen-month period (2007–2009). Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained confirmed all viruses to be RABV, belonging to lineages previously detected in sub-Saharan Africa. However, unlike earlier reported studies that suggested a single lineage (Africa 2) circulates in West Africa, we identified viruses belonging to the Africa 2 lineage and both Africa 1 (a and b) sub-lineages. Phylogeographic Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo analysis of a 405 bp fragment of the RABV nucleoprotein gene from the 76 new sequences derived from Ghanaian animals suggest that within the Africa 2 lineage three clades co-circulate with their origins in other West African countries. Africa 1a is probably a western extension of a clade circulating in central Africa and the Africa 1b virus a probable recent introduction from eastern Africa. We also developed and tested a novel reverse-transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay for the detection of RABV in African laboratories. This RT-LAMP was shown to detect both Africa 1 and 2 viruses, including its adaptation to a lateral flow device format for product visualization. These data suggest that RABV epidemiology is more complex than previously thought in West Africa and that there have been repeated introductions of RABV into Ghana. This analysis highlights the potential problems of individual developing nations implementing rabies control programmes in the absence of a regional programme.
Author Summary
Rabies virus (RABV) is widespread throughout Africa, with the domestic dog being the principal vector. Dog rabies is estimated to cause 24,000 human deaths per year in Africa, however, this estimate is still considered to be conservative. Two sub-Saharan African RABV lineages (Africa 1 and 2) are thought to circulate in western and central Africa. We confirmed the presence of RABV in a cohort of 76 brain samples obtained from rabid animals in Ghana collected from 2007 to 2009. In addition we developed and tested a novel molecular diagnostic assay for the detection of RABV, which offers an alternative RABV diagnostic tool for African laboratories. Our analysis of the genetic sequences obtained confirmed all viruses to be RABV, however, unlike previous studies we detected two sub-Saharan African RABV viruses (Africa 1 and 2) in this cohort, which included a single virus previously undetected in West Africa. We suggest that there has been repeated introduction of new RABVs into Ghana over a prolonged period from other West African countries and more recently from eastern Africa. These observations further highlight the problems of individual developing nations implementing rabies control programmes at a local, rather than regional level.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001001
PMCID: PMC3071360  PMID: 21483707
2.  High Diversity of Rabies Viruses Associated with Insectivorous Bats in Argentina: Presence of Several Independent Enzootics 
Background
Rabies is a fatal infection of the central nervous system primarily transmitted by rabid animal bites. Rabies virus (RABV) circulates through two different epidemiological cycles: terrestrial and aerial, where dogs, foxes or skunks and bats, respectively, act as the most relevant reservoirs and/or vectors. It is widely accepted that insectivorous bats are not important vectors of RABV in Argentina despite the great diversity of bat species and the extensive Argentinean territory.
Methods
We studied the positivity rate of RABV detection in different areas of the country, and the antigenic and genetic diversity of 99 rabies virus (RABV) strains obtained from 14 species of insectivorous bats collected in Argentina between 1991 and 2008.
Results
Based on the analysis of bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%, depending on the geographic location. The findings were distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory. The 99 strains of insectivorous bat-related sequences were divided into six distinct lineages associated with Tadarida brasiliensis, Myotis spp, Eptesicus spp, Histiotus montanus, Lasiurus blosseviilli and Lasiurus cinereus. Comparison with RABV sequences obtained from insectivorous bats of the Americas revealed co-circulation of similar genetic variants in several countries. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates the presence of several independent enzootics of rabies in insectivorous bats of Argentina. This information is relevant to identify potential areas at risk for human and animal infection.
Author Summary
In Argentina, successful vaccination and control of terrestrial rabies in the 1980s revealed the importance of the aerial route in RABV transmission. Current distribution of cases shows a predominance of rabies by hematophagous bats in the Northern regions where rabies is a major public health concern; in contrast, in Central and Southern regions where rabies is not a major public health concern, little surveillance is performed. Based on the analysis of insectivorous bats received for RABV analysis by the National Rabies system of surveillance, the positivity rate of RABV in insectivorous bats in these regions ranged from 3.1 to 5.4%. This rate is comparable to other nations such as the United States (9–10%) where insectivorous bats are an important cause of concern for RABV surveillance systems. Antigenic and genetic analysis of a wide collection of rabies strains shows the presence of multiple endemic cycles associated with six bat insectivorous species distributed among an extensive area of the Argentinean territory and several countries of the Americas. Finally, inter-species transmission, mostly related with Lasiurus species, was demonstrated in 11.8% of the samples. Increased public education about the relationship between insectivorous bats and rabies are essential to avoid human cases and potential spread to terrestrial mammals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001635
PMCID: PMC3348165  PMID: 22590657
3.  The Phylogeography of Rabies in Grenada, West Indies, and Implications for Control 
In Grenada, West Indies, rabies is endemic, and is thought to be maintained in a wildlife host, the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) with occasional spillover into other hosts. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to improve understanding of rabies epidemiology in Grenada and to inform rabies control policy. Mongooses were trapped island-wide between April 2011 and March 2013 and examined for the presence of Rabies virus (RABV) antigen using the direct fluorescent antibody test (dFAT) and PCR, and for serum neutralizing antibodies (SNA) using the fluorescent antibody virus neutralization test (FAVN). An additional cohort of brain samples from clinical rabies suspects submitted between April 2011 and March 2014 were also investigated for the presence of virus. Two of the 171 (1.7%) live-trapped mongooses were RABV positive by FAT and PCR, and 20 (11.7%) had SNAs. Rabies was diagnosed in 31 of the submitted animals with suspicious clinical signs: 16 mongooses, 12 dogs, 2 cats and 1 goat. Our investigation has revealed that rabies infection spread from the northeast to the southwest of Grenada within the study period. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the viruses from Grenada formed a monophyletic clade within the cosmopolitan lineage with a common ancestor predicted to have occurred recently (6–23 years ago), and are distinct from those found in Cuba and Puerto Rico, where mongoose rabies is also endemic. These data suggest that it is likely that this specific strain of RABV was imported from European regions rather than the Americas. These data contribute essential information for any potential rabies control program in Grenada and demonstrate the importance of a sound evidence base for planning interventions.
Author Summary
Rabies, a fatal disease of animals and humans has been endemic in Grenada, West Indies, since the early 1900s. The small Indian mongoose, an introduced animal, is the most likely rabies reservoir, with spillover into domestic animals and humans. To control rabies, large numbers of mongooses were killed in the 1960s/1970s, but this effort did not alter long-term rabies dynamics. Vaccination of dogs, cats and livestock is efficient in protecting these animals, yet is not regularly undertaken. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in humans is routinely done and no human has died of rabies in Grenada since 1970. However, the threat of rabies and potential to adversely affect the tourism industry, are a burden on the Grenadian government and public. This study has re-evaluated the role of the mongoose in the maintenance of rabies in Grenada, and for the first time, the rabies virus circulating in Grenada has been described. Grenada offers optimal conditions for an oral rabies vaccination (ORV) program, being an island with strict live animal import controls, and a single wildlife rabies reservoir. Although further work is needed before an ORV campaign could be implemented, elimination of rabies from Grenada seems a realistic goal.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003251
PMCID: PMC4199513  PMID: 25330178
4.  Bat Rabies in Guatemala 
Rabies in bats is considered enzootic throughout the New World, but few comparative data are available for most countries in the region. As part of a larger pathogen detection program, enhanced bat rabies surveillance was conducted in Guatemala, between 2009 and 2011. A total of 672 bats of 31 species were sampled and tested for rabies. The prevalence of rabies virus (RABV) detection among all collected bats was low (0.3%). Viral antigens were detected and infectious virus was isolated from the brains of two common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus). RABV was also isolated from oral swabs, lungs and kidneys of both bats, whereas viral RNA was detected in all of the tissues examined by hemi-nested RT-PCR except for the liver of one bat. Sequencing of the nucleoprotein gene showed that both viruses were 100% identical, whereas sequencing of the glycoprotein gene revealed one non-synonymous substitution (302T,S). The two vampire bat RABV isolates in this study were phylogenetically related to viruses associated with vampire bats in the eastern states of Mexico and El Salvador. Additionally, 7% of sera collected from 398 bats demonstrated RABV neutralizing antibody. The proportion of seropositive bats varied significantly across trophic guilds, suggestive of complex intraspecific compartmentalization of RABV perpetuation.
Author Summary
In this study we provide results of the first active and extensive surveillance effort for rabies virus (RABV) circulation among bats in Guatemala. The survey included multiple geographic areas and multiple species of bats, to assess the broader public and veterinary health risks associated with rabies in bats in Guatemala. RABV was isolated from vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) collected in two different locations in Guatemala. Sequencing of the isolates revealed a closer relationship to Mexican and Central American vampire bat isolates than to South American isolates. The detection of RABV neutralizing antibodies in 11 species, including insectivorous, frugivorous, and sanguivorous bats, demonstrates viral circulation in both hematophagous and non-hematophagous bat species in Guatemala. The presence of bat RABV in rural communities requires new strategies for public health education regarding contact with bats, improved laboratory-based surveillance of animals associated with human exposures, and novel techniques for modern rabies prevention and control. Additionally, healthcare practitioners should emphasize the collection of a detailed medical history, including questions regarding bat exposure, for patients presenting with clinical syndromes compatible with rabies or any clinically diagnosed progressive encephalitis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003070
PMCID: PMC4117473  PMID: 25080103
5.  Laboratory Surveillance of Rabies in Humans, Domestic Animals, and Bats in Madagascar from 2005 to 2010 
Background. Rabies virus (RABV) has circulated in Madagascar at least since the 19th century. Objectives. To assess the circulation of lyssavirus in the island from 2005 to 2010. Materials and Methods. Animal (including bats) and human samples were tested for RABV and other lyssavirus using antigen, ribonucleic acid (RNA), and antibodies detection and virus isolation. Results. Half of the 437 domestic or tame wild terrestrial mammal brains tested were found RABV antigen positive, including 54% of the 341 dogs tested. This percentage ranged from 26% to 75% across the period. Nine of the 10 suspected human cases tested were laboratory confirmed. RABV circulation was confirmed in 34 of the 38 districts sampled. No lyssavirus RNA was detected in 1983 bats specimens. Nevertheless, antibodies against Lagos bat virus were detected in the sera of 12 among 50 Eidolon dupreanum specimens sampled. Conclusion. More than a century after the introduction of the vaccine, rabies still remains endemic in Madagascar.
doi:10.4061/2011/727821
PMCID: PMC3170745  PMID: 21991442
6.  Rabies in Iraq: Trends in Human Cases 2001–2010 and Characterisation of Animal Rabies Strains from Baghdad 
Control of rabies requires a consistent supply of dependable resources, constructive cooperation between veterinary and public health authorities, and systematic surveillance. These are challenging in any circumstances, but particularly during conflict. Here we describe available human rabies surveillance data from Iraq, results of renewed sampling for rabies in animals, and the first genetic characterisation of circulating rabies strains from Iraq. Human rabies is notifiable, with reported cases increasing since 2003, and a marked increase in Baghdad between 2009 and 2010. These changes coincide with increasing numbers of reported dog bites. There is no laboratory confirmation of disease or virus characterisation and no systematic surveillance for rabies in animals. To address these issues, brain samples were collected from domestic animals in the greater Baghdad region and tested for rabies. Three of 40 brain samples were positive using the fluorescent antibody test and hemi-nested RT-PCR for rabies virus (RABV). Bayesian phylogenetic analysis using partial nucleoprotein gene sequences derived from the samples demonstrated the viruses belong to a single virus variant and share a common ancestor with viruses from neighbouring countries, 22 (95% HPD 14–32) years ago. These include countries lying to the west, north and east of Iraq, some of which also have other virus variants circulating concurrently. These results suggest possible multiple introductions of rabies into the Middle East, and regular trans-boundary movement of disease. Although 4000 years have passed since the original description of disease consistent with rabies, animals and humans are still dying of this preventable and neglected zoonosis.
Author Summary
Control of rabies requires cooperation between government departments, consistent funding, and an understanding of the epidemiology of the disease obtained through surveillance. Here we describe human rabies surveillance data from Iraq and the results of renewed sampling for rabies in animals. In Iraq, it is obligatory by law to report cases of human rabies. These reports were collated and analysed. Reported cases have increased since 2003, with a marked increase in Baghdad 2009–2010. There is no system for detecting rabies in animals and the strains circulating in Iraq have not previously been characterized. To address this, samples were collected from domestic animals in Baghdad and tested for rabies. Three out of 40 were positive for rabies virus. Comparison of part of the viral genetic sequence with other viruses from the region demonstrated that the viruses from Iraq are more closely related to each other than those from surrounding countries, but diverged from viruses isolated in neighbouring countries approximately 22 (95% HPD 14–32) years ago. Although 4000 years have passed since the original description of disease consistent with rabies, animals and humans are still dying of this preventable and neglected zoonosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002075
PMCID: PMC3585036  PMID: 23469303
7.  The origin and phylogeography of dog rabies virus 
The Journal of General Virology  2008;89(Pt 11):2673-2681.
Rabies is a progressively fatal and incurable viral encephalitis caused by a lyssavirus infection. Almost all of the 55 000 annual rabies deaths in humans result from infection with dog rabies viruses (RABV). Despite the importance of rabies for human health, little is known about the spread of RABV in dog populations, and patterns of biodiversity have only been studied in limited geographical space. To address these questions on a global scale, we sequenced 62 new isolates and performed an extensive comparative analysis of RABV gene sequence data, representing 192 isolates sampled from 55 countries. From this, we identified six clades of RABV in non-flying mammals, each of which has a distinct geographical distribution, most likely reflecting major physical barriers to gene flow. Indeed, a detailed analysis of phylogeographic structure revealed only limited viral movement among geographical localities. Using Bayesian coalescent methods we also reveal that the sampled lineages of canid RABV derive from a common ancestor that originated within the past 1500 years. Additionally, we found no evidence for either positive selection or widespread population bottlenecks during the global expansion of canid RABV. Overall, our study reveals that the stochastic processes of genetic drift and population subdivision are the most important factors shaping the global phylogeography of canid RABV.
doi:10.1099/vir.0.2008/003913-0
PMCID: PMC3326349  PMID: 18931062
8.  Rabies Virus Hijacks and Accelerates the p75NTR Retrograde Axonal Transport Machinery 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(8):e1004348.
Rabies virus (RABV) is a neurotropic virus that depends on long distance axonal transport in order to reach the central nervous system (CNS). The strategy RABV uses to hijack the cellular transport machinery is still not clear. It is thought that RABV interacts with membrane receptors in order to internalize and exploit the endosomal trafficking pathway, yet this has never been demonstrated directly. The p75 Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) receptor (p75NTR) binds RABV Glycoprotein (RABV-G) with high affinity. However, as p75NTR is not essential for RABV infection, the specific role of this interaction remains in question. Here we used live cell imaging to track RABV entry at nerve terminals and studied its retrograde transport along the axon with and without the p75NTR receptor. First, we found that NGF, an endogenous p75NTR ligand, and RABV, are localized in corresponding domains along nerve tips. RABV and NGF were internalized at similar time frames, suggesting comparable entry machineries. Next, we demonstrated that RABV could internalize together with p75NTR. Characterizing RABV retrograde movement along the axon, we showed the virus is transported in acidic compartments, mostly with p75NTR. Interestingly, RABV is transported faster than NGF, suggesting that RABV not only hijacks the transport machinery but can also manipulate it. Co-transport of RABV and NGF identified two modes of transport, slow and fast, that may represent a differential control of the trafficking machinery by RABV. Finally, we determined that p75NTR-dependent transport of RABV is faster and more directed than p75NTR-independent RABV transport. This fast route to the neuronal cell body is characterized by both an increase in instantaneous velocities and fewer, shorter stops en route. Hence, RABV may employ p75NTR-dependent transport as a fast mechanism to facilitate movement to the CNS.
Author Summary
Rabies virus (RABV) is a neurotropic virus that depends on long distance axonal transport in order to reach the central nervous system (CNS). The strategy RABV uses to hijack the cellular transport machinery is unknown. Here we use live cell imaging to track RABV entry at nerve terminals and study its retrograde transport along the axon. First, we demonstrate that RABV interacts with the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) at peripheral neuron tips to enter the axon. Then, characterizing RABV retrograde transport along the axon, we showed that the virus moves in acidic compartments, mostly with p75NTR. Interestingly, RABV is transported faster than NGF, an endogenous p75NTR ligand. Finally, we determine that p75NTR-dependent transport of RABV is faster and more directed than p75NTR-independent RABV transport. Hence, RABV not only exploits the neurotrophin transport machinery, but also has a positive influence on transport kinetics, thus facilitating its own arrival at the CNS.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004348
PMCID: PMC4148448  PMID: 25165859
9.  A New Rabies Vaccine Based on a Recombinant Orf Virus (Parapoxvirus) Expressing the Rabies Virus Glycoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1618-1630.
The present study describes the generation of a new Orf virus (ORFV) recombinant, D1701-V-RabG, expressing the rabies virus (RABV) glycoprotein that is correctly presented on the surface of infected cells without the need of replication or production of infectious recombinant virus. One single immunization with recombinant ORFV can stimulate high RABV-specific virus-neutralizing antibody (VNA) titers in mice, cats, and dogs, representing all nonpermissive hosts for the ORFV vector. The protective immune response against severe lethal challenge infection was analyzed in detail in mice using different dosages, numbers, and routes for immunization with the ORFV recombinant. Long-term levels of VNA could be elicited that remained greater than 0.5 IU per ml serum, indicative for the protective status. Single applications of higher doses (107 PFU) can be sufficient to confer complete protection against intracranial (i.c.) challenge, whereas booster immunization was needed for protection by the application of lower dosages. Anamnestic immune responses were achieved by each of the seven tested routes of inoculation, including oral application. Finally, in vivo antibody-mediated depletion of CD4-positive and/or CD8-posititve T cell subpopulations during immunization and/or challenge infection attested the importance of CD4 T cells for the induction of protective immunity by D1701-V-RabG. This report demonstrates another example of the potential of the ORFV vector and also indicates the capability of the new recombinant for vaccination of animals.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02470-12
PMCID: PMC3554190  PMID: 23175365
10.  Rabies Diagnosis for Developing Countries 
Background
Canine rabies is a neglected disease causing 55,000 human deaths worldwide per year, and 99% of all cases are transmitted by dog bites. In N'Djaména, the capital of Chad, rabies is endemic with an incidence of 1.71/1,000 dogs (95% C.I. 1.45–1.98). The gold standard of rabies diagnosis is the direct immunofluorescent antibody (DFA) test, requiring a fluorescent microscope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, United States of America) developed a histochemical test using low-cost light microscopy, the direct rapid immunohistochemical test (dRIT).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We evaluated the dRIT in the Chadian National Veterinary Laboratory in N'Djaména by testing 35 fresh samples parallel with both the DFA and dRIT. Additional retests (n = 68 in Chad, n = 74 at CDC) by DFA and dRIT of stored samples enhanced the power of the evaluation. All samples were from dogs, cats, and in one case from a bat. The dRIT performed very well compared to DFA. We found a 100% agreement of the dRIT and DFA in fresh samples (n = 35). Results of retesting at CDC and in Chad depended on the condition of samples. When the sample was in good condition (fresh brain tissue), we found simple Cohen's kappa coefficient related to the DFA diagnostic results in fresh tissue of 0.87 (95% C.I. 0.63–1) up to 1. For poor quality samples, the kappa values were between 0.13 (95% C.I. −0.15–0.40) and 0.48 (95% C.I. 0.14–0.82). For samples stored in glycerol, dRIT results were more likely to agree with DFA testing in fresh samples than the DFA retesting.
Conclusion/Significance
The dRIT is as reliable a diagnostic method as the gold standard (DFA) for fresh samples. It has an advantage of requiring only light microscopy, which is 10 times less expensive than a fluorescence microscope. Reduced cost suggests high potential for making rabies diagnosis available in other cities and rural areas of Africa for large populations for which a capacity for diagnosis will contribute to rabies control.
Author Summary
A new diagnostic test for rabies in animals was evaluated in N'Djaména, capital of Chad. The test is based on a direct immuno-histochemical detection of rabies virus in brain tissue (dRIT) visible by normal light microscopy. Rabies detection by dRIT light microscopy is 10 times less expensive than fluorescence microscopy required for the current gold standard of rabies diagnosis. The test showed ideal results in fresh samples with 100% agreement with the gold standard and confirms the results of a first study in Tanzania. Thus, it has a significant potential for diagnosing rabies in low-income countries, and under field conditions where rabies diagnosis is unavailable for the moment. This new test opens up a great potential to train technical staff and to establish rabies diagnosis without delay in low-income countries with urban rabies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000206
PMCID: PMC2268742  PMID: 18365035
11.  Recent Emergence and Spread of an Arctic-Related Phylogenetic Lineage of Rabies Virus in Nepal 
Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is endemic in many parts of the developing world, especially in Africa and Asia. However its epidemiology remains largely unappreciated in much of these regions, such as in Nepal, where limited information is available about the spatiotemporal dynamics of the main etiological agent, the rabies virus (RABV). In this study, we describe for the first time the phylogenetic diversity and evolution of RABV circulating in Nepal, as well as their geographical relationships within the broader region. A total of 24 new isolates obtained from Nepal and collected from 2003 to 2011 were full-length sequenced for both the nucleoprotein and the glycoprotein genes, and analysed using neighbour-joining and maximum-likelihood phylogenetic methods with representative viruses from all over the world, including new related RABV strains from neighbouring or more distant countries (Afghanistan, Greenland, Iran, Russia and USA). Despite Nepal's limited land surface and its particular geographical position within the Indian subcontinent, our study revealed the presence of a surprising wide genetic diversity of RABV, with the co-existence of three different phylogenetic groups: an Indian subcontinent clade and two different Arctic-like sub-clades within the Arctic-related clade. This observation suggests at least two independent episodes of rabies introduction from neighbouring countries. In addition, specific phylogenetic and temporal evolution analysis of viruses within the Arctic-related clade has identified a new recently emerged RABV lineage we named as the Arctic-like 3 (AL-3) sub-clade that is already widely spread in Nepal.
Author Summary
Rabies is endemic in most Asian countries and represents a serious public health issue, with an estimated 31,000 people dying each year of this disease. The majority of human cases are transmitted by domestic dogs, which act as the principal reservoir host and vector. However, molecular epidemiology and evolutionary dynamics of the main etiological agent, the rabies virus (RABV), remains largely unappreciated in some regions such as in Nepal. Based on a subset of 24 new Nepalese isolates collected from 2003 to 2011 and representative RABV strains at a global scale, phylogenetic analysis based on the complete nucleoprotein and glycoprotein genes sequences revealed the presence of a surprising wide genetic diversity of RABV circulating in this country. The presence of three different co-existing phylogenetic groups was identified: an Indian subcontinent clade and two different Arctic-like sub-clades within the Arctic-related clade, namely Arctic-like (AL)-1, lineage a (AL-1a), and AL-3. Among these clusters, the AL-3 sub-clade appears as the major Nepalese phylogroup which emerged relatively recently in this country, within the last 30 years. These data has raised some concerns about the exchange of RABV between different countries, and provided key elements for implementation of effective control measures of rabies in Nepal.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002560
PMCID: PMC3836727  PMID: 24278494
12.  Enhancement of Blood-Brain Barrier Permeability and Reduction of Tight Junction Protein Expression Are Modulated by Chemokines/Cytokines Induced by Rabies Virus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(9):4698-4710.
ABSTRACT
Infection with laboratory-attenuated rabies virus (RABV) enhances blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, which has been demonstrated to be an important factor for host survival, since it allows immune effectors to enter the central nervous system (CNS) and clear RABV. To probe the mechanism by which RABV infection enhances BBB permeability, the expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins in the CNS was investigated following intracranial inoculation with laboratory-attenuated or wild-type (wt) RABV. BBB permeability was significantly enhanced in mice infected with laboratory-attenuated, but not wt, RABV. The expression levels of TJ proteins (claudin-5, occludin, and zonula occludens-1) were decreased in mice infected with laboratory-attenuated, but not wt, RABV, suggesting that enhancement of BBB permeability is associated with the reduction of TJ protein expression in RABV infection. RABV neither infects the brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) nor modulates the expression of TJ proteins in BMECs. However, brain extracts prepared from mice infected with laboratory-attenuated, but not wt, RABV reduced TJ protein expression in BMECs. It was found that brain extracts from mice infected with laboratory-attenuated RABV contained significantly higher levels of inflammatory chemokines/cytokines than those from mice infected with wt RABV. Pathway analysis indicates that gamma interferon (IFN-γ) is located in the center of the cytokine network in the RABV-infected mouse brain, and neutralization of IFN-γ reduced both the disruption of BBB permeability in vivo and the downregulation of TJ protein expression in vitro. These findings indicate that the enhancement of BBB permeability and the reduction of TJ protein expression are due not to RABV infection per se but to virus-induced inflammatory chemokines/cytokines.
IMPORTANCE Previous studies have shown that infection with only laboratory-attenuated, not wild-type, rabies virus (RABV) enhances blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, allowing immune effectors to enter the central nervous system (CNS) and clear RABV from the CNS. This study investigated the mechanism by which RABV infection enhances BBB permeability. It was found that RABV infection enhances BBB permeability by downregulation of tight junction (TJ) protein expression in the brain microvasculature. It was further found that it is not RABV infection per se but the chemokines/cytokines induced by RABV infection that downregulate the expression of TJ proteins and enhance BBB permeability. Blocking some of these cytokines, such as IFN-γ, ameliorated both the disruption of BBB permeability and the downregulation of TJ protein expression. These studies may provide a foundation for developing therapeutics for clinical rabies, such as medication that could be used to enhance BBB permeability.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03149-13
PMCID: PMC3993813  PMID: 24522913
13.  A Novel Rabies Vaccine Based on a Recombinant Parainfluenza Virus 5 Expressing Rabies Virus Glycoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(6):2986-2993.
Untreated rabies virus (RABV) infection leads to death. Vaccine and postexposure treatment have been effective in preventing RABV infection. However, due to cost, rabies vaccination and treatment have not been widely used in developing countries. There are 55,000 human death caused by rabies annually. An efficacious and cost-effective rabies vaccine is needed. Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) is thought to contribute to kennel cough, and kennel cough vaccines containing live PIV5 have been used in dogs for many years. In this work, a PIV5-vectored rabies vaccine was tested in mice. A recombinant PIV5 encoding RABV glycoprotein (G) (rPIV5-RV-G) was administered to mice via intranasal (i.n.), intramuscular (i.m.), and oral inoculation. The vaccinated mice were challenged with a 50% lethal challenge dose (LD50) of RABV challenge virus standard 24 (CVS-24) intracerebrally. A single dose of 106 PFU of rPIV5-RV-G was sufficient for 100% protection when administered via the i.n. route. The mice vaccinated with a single dose of 108 PFU of rPIV5-RV-G via the i.m. route showed very robust protection (90% to 100%). Intriguingly, the mice vaccinated orally with a single dose of 108 PFU of rPIV5-RV-G showed a 50% survival rate, which is comparable to the 60% survival rate among mice inoculated with an attenuated rabies vaccine strain, recombinant LBNSE. This is first report of an orally effective rabies vaccine candidate in animals based on PIV5 as a vector. These results indicate that rPIV5-RV-G is an excellent candidate for a new generation of recombinant rabies vaccine for humans and animals and PIV5 is a potential vector for oral vaccines.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02886-12
PMCID: PMC3592160  PMID: 23269806
14.  Complete Genome Sequence of a Street Rabies Virus from Mexico 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(19):10892-10893.
A canine rabies virus (RABV) has been used as a street rabies virus in laboratory investigations. Its entire genome was sequenced and found to be closely related to that of canine RABV circulating in Mexico. Sequence comparison indicates that the virus is closely related to those in the “cosmopolitan” group, with high homology (89 to 93%) to clade I of rabies viruses. The virus is now termed dog rabies virus-Mexico (DRV-Mexico).
doi:10.1128/JVI.01778-12
PMCID: PMC3457304  PMID: 22966186
15.  Prevalence of Rabies in Various Species in Yemen and Risk Factors Contributing to the Spread of the Disease 
Objectives:
This study aimed to describe for the first time the prevalence of the passively-reported rabies virus among different domestic and wild animals submitted to the Central Veterinary Laboratory from various areas in Yemen, and to study prevalence proportion ratios (PPR) that contributed to the spread of rabies among animals, and its transmission to humans.
Methods:
A brain sample was obtained from each of the 180 animals and tested for rabies virus by a direct fluorescent antibody test.
Results:
Out of the total number of animals involved in attacks on humans, 63.3 % were positive for rabies. Of these, dogs were the main animal involved in attacks with a percentage of 92%, of which 62.7% were positive for rabies. Of animals involved in attacks, 70.6% were males of which 60.6% were positive, and 29.4% were females of which 69.8% were positive. Males comprised 68.9% of the total human individuals attacked, of whom 62.9% were attacked by rabies-positive animals. The significant risk factors that contributed to the spread of rabies in general included the presence of poultry carcasses and other waste in the vicinity of the attacks (PPR = 9.5) with a percentage of 84.8%, followed by the time of year, in particular school vacations (PPR = 3.8) with a percentage of 78%.
Conclusion:
Rabies is endemic in Yemen with a very high rabies-positive rate for animals involved in attacks, particularly for stray male dogs. Male children were most often involved in attacks by rabies-positive animals. The presence of food waste (particularly poultry carcasses) and school vacation periods were found to correlate significantly with increased risk for human exposure to rabies.
PMCID: PMC3749025  PMID: 23984026
Rabies; Humans; Animals; Risk factors; Yemen
16.  Molecular Inferences Suggest Multiple Host Shifts of Rabies Viruses from Bats to Mesocarnivores in Arizona during 2001–2009 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002786.
In nature, rabies virus (RABV; genus Lyssavirus, family Rhabdoviridae) represents an assemblage of phylogenetic lineages, associated with specific mammalian host species. Although it is generally accepted that RABV evolved originally in bats and further shifted to carnivores, mechanisms of such host shifts are poorly understood, and examples are rarely present in surveillance data. Outbreaks in carnivores caused by a RABV variant, associated with big brown bats, occurred repeatedly during 2001–2009 in the Flagstaff area of Arizona. After each outbreak, extensive control campaigns were undertaken, with no reports of further rabies cases in carnivores for the next several years. However, questions remained whether all outbreaks were caused by a single introduction and further perpetuation of bat RABV in carnivore populations, or each outbreak was caused by an independent introduction of a bat virus. Another question of concern was related to adaptive changes in the RABV genome associated with host shifts. To address these questions, we sequenced and analyzed 66 complete and 20 nearly complete RABV genomes, including those from the Flagstaff area and other similar outbreaks in carnivores, caused by bat RABVs, and representatives of the major RABV lineages circulating in North America and worldwide. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that each Flagstaff outbreak was caused by an independent introduction of bat RABV into populations of carnivores. Positive selection analysis confirmed the absence of post-shift changes in RABV genes. In contrast, convergent evolution analysis demonstrated several amino acids in the N, P, G and L proteins, which might be significant for pre-adaptation of bat viruses to cause effective infection in carnivores. The substitution S/T242 in the viral glycoprotein is of particular merit, as a similar substitution was suggested for pathogenicity of Nishigahara RABV strain. Roles of the amino acid changes, detected in our study, require additional investigations, using reverse genetics and other approaches.
Author Summary
Host shifts of the rabies virus (RABV) from bats to carnivores are important for our understanding of viral evolution and emergence, and have significant public health implications, particularly for the areas where “terrestrial” rabies has been eliminated. In this study we addressed several rabies outbreaks in carnivores that occurred in the Flagstaff area of Arizona during 2001–2009, and caused by the RABV variant associated with big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Based on phylogenetic analysis we demonstrated that each outbreak resulted from a separate introduction of bat RABV into populations of carnivores. No post-shift changes in viral genomes were detected under the positive selection analysis. Trying to answer the question why certain bat RABV variants are capable for host shifts to carnivores and other variants are not, we developed a convergent evolution analysis, and implemented it for multiple RABV lineages circulating worldwide. This analysis identified several amino acids in RABV proteins which may facilitate host shifts from bats to carnivores. Precise roles of these amino acids require additional investigations, using reverse genetics and animal experimentation. In general, our approach and the results obtained can be used for prediction of host shifts and emergence of other zoonotic pathogens.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002786
PMCID: PMC3380930  PMID: 22737076
17.  Factors Associated with Dog Rabies Vaccination in Bohol, Philippines: Results of a Cross-Sectional Cluster Survey Conducted Following the Island-Wide Rabies Elimination Campaign 
Zoonoses and public health  2012;60(7):494-503.
Summary
The Philippines has a long history of rabies control efforts in their dog populations; however, long-term success of such programmes and the goal of rabies elimination have not yet been realized. The Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Program was developed as an innovative approach to canine rabies control in 2007. The objective of this study was to assess canine rabies vaccination coverage in the owned-dog population in Bohol and to describe factors associated with rabies vaccination two years after implementation of the programme. We utilized a cross-sectional cluster survey based on the World Health Organization’s Expanded Programme on Immunization coverage survey technique. We sampled 460 households and collected data on 539 dogs residing within these households. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed households reported owning at least one dog. The human to dog ratio was approximately 4 : 1, and the mean number of dogs owned per household was 1.6. Based on this ratio, we calculated an owned-dog population of almost 300 000. Overall, 71% of dogs were reported as having been vaccinated for rabies at some time in their lives; however, only 64% of dogs were reported as having been recently vaccinated. Dogs in our study were young (median age = 24 months). The odds of vaccination increased with increasing age. Dogs aged 12 – 23 months had 4.6 times the odds of vaccination compared to dogs aged 3 – 11 months (95% CI 1.8 – 12.0; P = 0.002). Confinement of the dog both day and night was also associated with increased odds of vaccination (OR = 2.1; 95% CI 0.9 – 4.9; P = 0.07), and this result approached statistical significance. While the programme is on track to meet its goal of 80% vaccination coverage, educational efforts should focus on the need to confine dogs and vaccinate young dogs.
doi:10.1111/zph.12026
PMCID: PMC3805987  PMID: 23280122
rabies; dog; cross-sectional; Philippines; cluster survey
18.  Dog Bite Histories and Response to Incidents in Canine Rabies-Enzootic KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
The objective of this paper is to report evaluated observations from survey records captured through a cross-sectional observational study regarding canine populations and dog owners in rabies enzootic KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Our aim was to evaluate respondent knowledge of canine rabies and response to dog bite incidents towards improved rabies control. Six communities consisting of three land use types were randomly sampled from September 2009 to January 2011, using a cluster design. A total of 1992 household records were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression modeling to evaluate source of rabies knowledge, experiences with dog bites, and factors affecting treatment received within respective households that occurred within the 365 day period prior to the surveys. 86% of the population surveyed had heard of rabies. Non-dog owners were 1.6 times more likely to have heard of rabies than dog owners; however, fear of rabies was not a reason for not owning a dog. Government veterinary services were reported most frequently as respondent source of rabies knowledge. Nearly 13% of households had a member bitten by a dog within the year prior to the surveys with 82% of the victims visiting a clinic as a response to the bite. 35% of these clinic visitors received at least one rabies vaccination. Regression modeling determined that the only response variable that significantly reflected the likelihood of a patient receiving rabies vaccination or not was the term for the area surveyed. Overall the survey showed that most respondents have heard of dog associated rabies and seek medical assistance at a clinic in response to a dog bite regardless of offending dog identification. An in-depth study involving factors associated within area clinics may highlight the area dependency for patients receiving rabies post exposure prophylaxis shown by this model.
Author Summary
Canine rabies has been enzootic to KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa since the mid-1970's. Vaccination requirements for domestic species and animal control laws enforced in industrialized countries frequently eliminate the need for rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) when an animal bite occurs. Rabies deaths in Africa are frequently linked to poverty and ignorance resulting in a lack of urgency for PEP in an environment where less than 70% of the domestic dog population is vaccinated against the disease. The results presented here are part of a larger canine ecology study conducted in KwaZulu-Natal from September 2009 through January 2011. The six surveyed areas consisted of three land use types: three rural villages, two urban townships and one peri-urban township. The findings show that although a large portion of the population has awareness of rabies, there is a lack of understanding in the response to dog bites. Regression modeling of data suggests that there is an effect of area upon the result of a bite victim receiving PEP as part of treatment. Detailed retrospective study of dog bite incidence and an introspective study of clinics and treatment centers within the province may help explain the results found in this study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002059
PMCID: PMC3617105  PMID: 23593511
19.  Comparison of Biotinylated Monoclonal and Polyclonal Antibodies in an Evaluation of a Direct Rapid Immunohistochemical Test for the Routine Diagnosis of Rabies in Southern Africa 
The major etiological agent of rabies, rabies virus (RABV), accounts for tens of thousands of human deaths per annum. The majority of these deaths are associated with rabies cycles in dogs in resource-limited countries of Africa and Asia. Although routine rabies diagnosis plays an integral role in disease surveillance and management, the application of the currently recommended direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test in countries on the African and Asian continents remains quite limited. A novel diagnostic assay, the direct rapid immunohistochemical test (dRIT), has been reported to have a diagnostic sensitivity and specificity equal to that of the DFA test while offering advantages in cost, time and interpretation. Prior studies used the dRIT utilized monoclonal antibody (MAb) cocktails. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that a biotinylated polyclonal antibody (PAb) preparation, applied in the dRIT protocol, would yield equal or improved results compared to the use of dRIT with MAbs. We also wanted to compare the PAb dRIT with the DFA test, utilizing the same PAb preparation with a fluorescent label. The PAb dRIT had a diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of 100%, which was shown to be marginally higher than the diagnostic efficacy observed for the PAb DFA test. The classical dRIT, relying on two-biotinylated MAbs, was applied to the same panel of samples and a reduced diagnostic sensitivity (83.50% and 90.78% respectively) was observed. Antigenic typing of the false negative samples indicated all of these to be mongoose RABV variants. Our results provided evidence that a dRIT with alternative antibody preparations, conjugated to a biotin moiety, has a diagnostic efficacy equal to that of a DFA relying on the same antibody and that the antibody preparation should be optimized for virus variants specific to the geographical area of focus.
Author Summary
Rabies is a neglected disease that primarily affects poor rural communities of the developing world. Lack of surveillance, related to limited diagnostic capabilities, contributes to the underestimation of the burden of this disease. Here we report an evaluation of the direct immunohistochemical test (dRIT) as a method for routine rabies diagnosis in southern Africa. The dRIT has potential as a practical and cost-effective test that may improve rabies diagnostic capacities where it is most needed, and with this work we hope to contribute to the advancement of the dRIT as a more generally accepted and applied method. For the first time, we have evaluated a modification of the dRIT in which a polyclonal antibody preparation was biotinylated and compared to the monoclonal antibodies used for the development of all subsequent experimental applications of the dRIT to date. We conclude that the dRIT is a superior test for rabies diagnosis that is easily adaptable to tolerate the use of different antibody preparations. We further demonstrate that the assay should be optimized with respect to the virus variants of the region where it is to be implemented.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003189
PMCID: PMC4177867  PMID: 25254652
20.  A single immunization with recombinant rabies virus (ERAG3G) confers complete protection against rabies in mice 
Purpose
New alternative bait rabies vaccines applicable to pet dogs and wild animals are needed to eradicate rabies in Korea. In this study, recombinant rabies virus, ERAG3G strain was constructed using reverse genetic system and the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of the ERAG3G strain was evaluated in mice and dogs.
Materials and Methods
Using the full-length genome mutated amino acid at position 333 of glycoprotein of rabies virus (RABV) and helper plasmids, the ERAG3G strain was rescued in BHK/T7-9 cells successfully. Mice were inoculated with the ERAG3G strain for safety and efficacy. Safety and immunogenicity of the dog inoculated with the ERAG3G strain (1 mL, 108.0 FAID50/mL) via intramuscular route was evaluated for 28 days after inoculation.
Results
The ERAG3G strain rescued by reverse genetic system was propagated well in the mouse neuroblastoma cells revealing titer of 108.5 FAID50/mL and was not pathogenic to 4- or 6-week-old mice that received by intramuscular or intracranical route. Immunization with the ERAG3G strain conferred complete protection from lethal RABV in mice. Dogs inoculated with the vaccine candidate via intramuscular route showed high neutralizing antibody titer ranging from 2.62 to 23.9 IU/mL at 28 days postinoculation.
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that the ERAG3G strain plays an important role in inducing protective efficacy in mice and causes to arise anti-rabies neutralizing antibody in dogs.
doi:10.7774/cevr.2014.3.2.176
PMCID: PMC4083070  PMID: 25003091
Rabies virus; Recombinant rabies virus; Vaccine; Animals
21.  Implementation of an Intersectoral Program to Eliminate Human and Canine Rabies: The Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Project 
Background
The province of Bohol, located in the Visayas islands region in the Philippines has a human population of 1.13 million and was the 4th highest region for human rabies deaths in the country, averaging 10 per year, prior to the initiation of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Project (BRPEP).
Aims
The BRPEP was initiated in 2007 with the goal of building a sustainable program that would prevent human rabies by eliminating rabies at its source, in dogs, by 2010. This goal was in line with the Philippine National Rabies Program whose objective is to eliminate rabies by 2020.
Methods
The intersectoral BRPEP was launched in 2007 and integrated the expertise and resources from the sectors of agriculture, public health and safety, education, environment, legal affairs, interior and local government. The program included: increasing local community involvement; implementing dog population control; conducting mass dog vaccination; improving dog bite management; instituting veterinary quarantine; and improving diagnostic capability, surveillance and monitoring. Funding was secured from the national government, provincial, municipal and village units, dog owners, NGOs, the regional office of the WHO, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. The BRPEP was managed by the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication Council (BRPEC) under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Bohol. Parallel organizations were created at the municipal level and village level. Community volunteers facilitated the institution of the program. Dog population surveys were conducted to plan for sufficient resources to vaccinate the required 70% of the dogs living in the province. Two island-wide mass vaccination campaigns were conducted followed by “catch up” vaccination campaigns. Registration of dogs was implemented including a small fee that was rolled back into the program to maintain sustainability. Children were educated by introducing rabies prevention modules into all elementary schools in Bohol. Existing public health legislation at the national, provincial, and municipal level strengthened the enforcement of activities. A Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) survey was conducted in 2009 to evaluate the educational knowledge of the population. Increased surveillance was instituted to ensure that dogs traveling into and out of the province were vaccinated against rabies. Human and animal cases of rabies were reported to provincial and national authorities.
Key Results
Within the first 18 months of the BRPEP, human rabies deaths had decreased annually from 0.77 to 0.37 to zero per 100,000 population from 2007–2009. Between October 2008 and November 2010 no human and animal cases were detected. Increased surveillance on the island detected one suspected human rabies case in November 2010 and one confirmed case of canine rabies in April 2011. Two mass vaccination campaigns conducted in 2007 and 2008 successfully registered and vaccinated 44% and 70% of the dogs on the island. The additional surveillance activities enabled a mobilization of mop up vaccination activities in the region where the human and canine case was located. Due to the increased effective and continuous surveillance activities, rabies was stopped before it could spread to other areas on the island. The program costs totaled USD 450,000. Registration fees collected to maintain the program amounted to USD 105,740 and were re-allocated back into the community to sustain the program.
Author Summary
The Province of Bohol, Philippines has eliminated dog and human rabies in less than three years by empowering the community and implementing an intersectoral strategy. In 2006, Bohol ranked 4th highest in the Philippines for human rabies, averaging 10 deaths per year. Launched in 2007, the program utilized a social awareness campaign, dog population control, mass dog vaccination campaigns, improved dog bite management and veterinary quarantine, a new diagnostic laboratory, expanded surveillance, and the inclusion of education modules into the school curriculum. Improving community compliance to existing national and provincial rabies laws and engaging volunteers to help conduct the project was a key to success. The program, led by the Governor of Bohol, was administered through a group of departments working together at a provincial and local level, and supervised through the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian. Financial support came through the Governor and several NGOs including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. The program is self-sustaining, through a small dog registration fee fed back into the program, through the continuing education of children in their classrooms, and through the dedicated efforts of over 15,000 staff and volunteers throughout the island.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001891
PMCID: PMC3516573  PMID: 23236525
22.  Immunofluorescent examination of the skin of rabies-infected animals as a means of early detection of rabies virus antigen. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1983;18(3):631-636.
Correlations were made on immunofluorescence positivity to antirabies conjugate between cranium-derived nerve fibers in skin and traditional samplings of brain tissue from several species and illness categories of animals with naturally acquired rabies. The overall correlation of results from all categories was about 98% (n, 104) for those that were brain positive and 100% (n, 99) for those that were brain negative. Some animals that ultimately developed rabies were found to have immunofluorescence-positive results 2 or more days before the onset of clinical signs in both natural and experimental infections. The percentage of those with positive skin immunofluorescence results increased as the onset of symptoms approached. From the midcourse period of illness to death, the correlation between skin and brain approached 100%. Different vaccines, commonly given to prevent rabies and other diseases of dogs and cats, were administered to groups of mice and were found to not produce false-positive results when their skin was examined by immunofluorescence for rabies virus antigen. These data suggest that examination of surgical biopsy specimens by immunofluorescence for rabies virus antigen is a useful and reliable diagnostic tool to evaluate the rabies status of biting dogs or cats, or to confirm a clinical diagnosis of rabies in the species tested. The biopsy evaluation of any other species as a means of assessing bite risk is not suggested by these data.
PMCID: PMC270866  PMID: 6355152
23.  Twelve Years of Rabies Surveillance in Sri Lanka, 1999–2010 
Background
Rabies is endemic in Sri Lanka, but little is known about the temporal and spatial trends of rabies in this country. Knowing these trends may provide insight into past control efforts and serve as the basis for future control measures. In this study, we analyzed distribution of rabies in humans and animals over a period of 12 years in Sri Lanka.
Methods
Accumulated data from 1999 through 2010 compiled by the Department of Rabies Diagnosis and Research, Medical Research Institute (MRI), Colombo, were used in this study.
Results
The yearly mean percentage of rabies-positive sample was 62.4% (47.6–75.9%). Three-fourths of the rabies-positive samples were from the Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara districts in Western province, followed by Galle in Southern province. A high percentage of the rabies samples were from dogs (85.2%), followed by cats (7.9%), humans (3.8%), wild animals (2.0%), and livestock (1.1%). Among wild animals, mongooses were the main victims followed by civets. The number of suspect human rabies cases decreased gradually in Sri Lanka, although the number of human samples submitted for laboratory confirmation increased.
Conclusions
The number of rabid dogs has remained relatively unchanged, but the number of suspect human rabies is decreasing gradually in Sri Lanka. These findings indicate successful use of postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) by animal bite victims and increased rabies awareness. PEP is free of charge and is supplied through government hospitals by the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka. Our survey shows that most positive samples were received from Western and Southern provinces, possibly because of the ease of transporting samples to the laboratory. Submissions of wild animal and livestock samples should be increased by creating more awareness among the public. Better rabies surveillance will require introduction of molecular methods for detection and the establishment of more regional rabies diagnostic laboratories.
Author Summary
Rabies is a public health concern in Sri Lanka. The incidence of dog rabies remains unchanged, but the incidence of suspect human rabies is decreasing gradually in Sri Lanka. This finding indicates the effects of improved access to postexposure prophylaxis by animal bite victims and increased rabies awareness. As in other rabies-endemic countries, in Sri Lanka, human rabies is transmitted mainly by dogs, although domestic and wild animals have been diagnosed rabid, and can pose a risk of exposure to humans. In this study, we analyzed 12 years of data accumulated in the national reference laboratory of Sri Lanka to identify the trends of rabies in this country. This study showed that rabies has been recorded mainly in Western and Southern Provinces of Sri Lanka, possibly because of the ease of communication with rabies diagnostic laboratories from these areas. Regional rabies diagnosis laboratories should be established to improve surveillance of rabies in Sri Lanka. There were few submitted animal samples from livestock and wild animals, indicating that greater awareness is needed among the public regarding the need to submit suspect rabid animals for diagnostic evaluation. These data could help policy makers improve rabies prevention and to control rabies in Sri Lanka.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003205
PMCID: PMC4191952  PMID: 25299511
24.  Evolutionary History and Phylogeography of Rabies Viruses Associated with Outbreaks in Trinidad 
Bat rabies is an emerging disease of public health significance in the Americas. The Caribbean island of Trinidad experiences periodic outbreaks within the livestock population. We performed molecular characterisation of Trinidad rabies virus (RABV) and used a Bayesian phylogeographic approach to investigate the extent to which outbreaks are a result of in situ evolution versus importation of virus from the nearby South American mainland. Trinidadian RABV sequences were confirmed as bat variant and clustered with Desmodus rotundus (vampire bat) related sequences. They fell into two largely temporally defined lineages designated Trinidad I and II. The Trinidad I lineage which included sequences from 1997–2000 (all but two of which were from the northeast of the island) was most closely related to RABV from Ecuador (2005, 2007), French Guiana (1990) and Venezuela (1993, 1994). Trinidad II comprised sequences from the southwest of the island, which clustered into two groups: Trinidad IIa, which included one sequence each from 2000 and 2007, and Trinidad IIb including all 2010 sequences. The Trinidad II sequences were most closely related to sequences from Brazil (1999, 2004) and Uruguay (2007, 2008). Phylogeographic analyses support three separate RABV introductions from the mainland from which each of the three Trinidadian lineages arose. The estimated dates for the introductions and subsequent lineage expansions suggest periods of in situ evolution within Trinidad following each introduction. These data also indicate co-circulation of Trinidad lineage I and IIa during 2000. In light of these findings and the likely vampire bat origin of Trinidadian RABV, further studies should be conducted to investigate the relationship between RABV spatiotemporal dynamics and vampire bat population ecology, in particular any movement between the mainland and Trinidad.
Author Summary
The Caribbean island of Trinidad experiences periodic rabies virus (RABV) outbreaks within the livestock population. In this study, we inferred the evolutionary history of RABV in the Americas and reconstructed past patterns of RABV geographic spread in order to address the question of whether Trinidadian outbreaks arise from locally maintained RABV or are the result of virus importation from the mainland (presumably via infected bats). Our results provide statistical support for three importation events that gave rise to each of three Trinidadian vampire bat-associated lineages identified in the study. They also indicate limited periods of in situ evolution within Trinidad following each of these introductions. The results also support Mexico and Brazil as major epicenters for the expansion of RABV associated with vampire bats throughout the Americas and consequently to Trinidad. The findings of our study are particularly relevant to local RABV monitoring and control. In addition to justifying vampire bats as the main target for active rabies surveillance and control activities in Trinidad, they suggest that more intense surveillance of regions that lie close to the mainland may be warranted. Finally, in light of these findings, further studies should be conducted to investigate the relationship between RABV spatiotemporal dynamics and vampire bat population ecology.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002365
PMCID: PMC3749974  PMID: 23991230
25.  Development of a Mouse Monoclonal Antibody Cocktail for Post-exposure Rabies Prophylaxis in Humans 
As the demand for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatments has increased exponentially in recent years, the limited supply of human and equine rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG and ERIG) has failed to provide the required passive immune component in PEP in countries where canine rabies is endemic. Replacement of HRIG and ERIG with a potentially cheaper and efficacious alternative biological for treatment of rabies in humans, therefore, remains a high priority. In this study, we set out to assess a mouse monoclonal antibody (MoMAb) cocktail with the ultimate goal to develop a product at the lowest possible cost that can be used in developing countries as a replacement for RIG in PEP. Five MoMAbs, E559.9.14, 1112-1, 62-71-3, M727-5-1, and M777-16-3, were selected from available panels based on stringent criteria, such as biological activity, neutralizing potency, binding specificity, spectrum of neutralization of lyssaviruses, and history of each hybridoma. Four of these MoMAbs recognize epitopes in antigenic site II and one recognizes an epitope in antigenic site III on the rabies virus (RABV) glycoprotein, as determined by nucleotide sequence analysis of the glycoprotein gene of unique MoMAb neutralization-escape mutants. The MoMAbs were produced under Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) conditions. Unique combinations (cocktails) were prepared, using different concentrations of the MoMAbs that were capable of targeting non-overlapping epitopes of antigenic sites II and III. Blind in vitro efficacy studies showed the MoMab cocktails neutralized a broad spectrum of lyssaviruses except for lyssaviruses belonging to phylogroups II and III. In vivo, MoMAb cocktails resulted in protection as a component of PEP that was comparable to HRIG. In conclusion, all three novel combinations of MoMAbs were shown to have equal efficacy to HRIG and therefore could be considered a potentially less expensive alternative biological agent for use in PEP and prevention of rabies in humans.
Author Summary
Human mortality from endemic canine rabies is estimated to be 55,000 deaths per year in Africa and Asia, yet rabies remains a neglected disease throughout most of these countries. More than 99% of human rabies cases are caused by infections resulting from a dog-bite injury. In the vast majority of human exposures to rabies, patients require post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which includes both passive (rabies immunoglobulin, RIG) and active immunization (rabies vaccine). The number of victims requiring PEP has increased exponentially in recent years, and human and equine RIG (HRIG and ERIG) were not sufficiently available in countries where canine rabies is endemic. Rabies virus-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) of mouse (Mo) origin have been identified as promising alternatives to HRIG and ERIG. We have developed and assessed both in vitro and in vivo unique mouse monoclonal antibody (MoMAb) cocktails, which are highly efficacious. Three novel combinations were shown to have an equal or superior efficacy to HRIG and therefore could be considered a potentially less expensive alternative for passive prophylactic use to prevent the development of rabies in humans, particularly where needed most in developing countries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000542
PMCID: PMC2765635  PMID: 19888334

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