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1.  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
2.  Complete Genome Sequence of a Street Rabies Virus Isolated from a Dog in Nigeria 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00214-12.
A canine rabies virus (RABV) was isolated from a trade dog in Nigeria. Its entire genome was sequenced and found to be closely related to canine RABVs circulating in Africa. Sequence comparison indicates that the virus is closely related to the Africa 2 RABV lineage. The virus is now termed DRV-NG11.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00214-12
PMCID: PMC3587938  PMID: 23469344
3.  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
4.  Exploring reservoir dynamics: a case study of rabies in the Serengeti ecosystem 
The Journal of applied ecology  2008;45(4):1246-1257.
Summary
Knowledge of infection reservoir dynamics is critical for effective disease control, but identifying reservoirs of multi-host pathogens is challenging. Here, we synthesize several lines of evidence to investigate rabies reservoirs in complex carnivore communities of the Serengeti ecological region in northwest Tanzania, where the disease has been confirmed in 12 carnivore species.Long-term monitoring data suggest that rabies persists in high-density domestic dog Canis familiaris populations (> 11 dogs km−2) and occurs less frequently in lower-density (< 5 dogs km−2) populations and only sporadically in wild carnivores.Genetic data show that a single rabies virus variant belonging to the group of southern Africa canid-associated viruses (Africa 1b) circulates among a range of species, with no evidence of species-specific virus–host associations.Within-species transmission was more frequently inferred from high-resolution epidemiological data than between-species transmission. Incidence patterns indicate that spill-over of rabies from domestic dog populations sometimes initiates short-lived chains of transmission in other carnivores.Synthesis and applications. The balance of evidence suggests that the reservoir of rabies in the Serengeti ecosystem is a complex multi-host community where domestic dogs are the only population essential for persistence, although other carnivores contribute to the reservoir as non-maintenance populations. Control programmes that target domestic dog populations should therefore have the greatest impact on reducing the risk of infection in all other species including humans, livestock and endangered wildlife populations, but transmission in other species may increase the level of vaccination coverage in domestic dog populations necessary to eliminate rabies.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01468.x
PMCID: PMC3303133  PMID: 22427710
carnivore; infectious disease; multi-host; phylogeny; rabies; reservoir; spill-over; transmission
5.  Enzootic and Epizootic Rabies Associated with Vampire Bats, Peru 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(9):1463-1469.
During the past decade, incidence of human infection with rabies virus (RABV) spread by the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) increased considerably in South America, especially in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, where these bats commonly feed on humans. To better understand the epizootiology of rabies associated with vampire bats, we used complete sequences of the nucleoprotein gene to infer phylogenetic relationships among 157 RABV isolates collected from humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, including bats, in Peru during 2002–2007. This analysis revealed distinct geographic structuring that indicates that RABVs spread gradually and involve different vampire bat subpopulations with different transmission cycles. Three putative new RABV lineages were found in 3 non–vampire bat species that may represent new virus reservoirs. Detection of novel RABV variants and accurate identification of reservoir hosts are critically important for the prevention and control of potential virus transmission, especially to humans.
doi:10.3201/eid1909.130083
PMCID: PMC3810916
rabies; molecular epidemiology; bats; Peru; viruses; zoonoses; vampire bats
6.  Molecular characterization of Korean rabies virus isolates 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2011;12(1):57-63.
The nucleoprotein (N) and glycoprotein (G) of 11 Korean rabies virus (RABV) isolates collected from animals diagnosed with rabies between 2008 and 2009 were subjected to molecular and phylogenetic analyses. Six isolates originated from domestic animals (cattle and dogs) and five were obtained from wild free-ranging raccoon dogs. The similarities in the nucleotide sequences of the N gene among all Korean isolates ranged from 98.1 to 99.8%, while those of the G gene ranged from 97.9 to 99.3%. Based on the nucleotide analysis of the N and G genes, the Korean RABV isolates were confirmed as genotype I of Lyssavirus and classified into four distinct subgroups with high similarity. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the Korean isolates were most closely related to the non-Korean NeiMeng1025B and 857r strains, which were isolated from rabid raccoon dogs in Eastern China and Russia, respectively. These findings suggest that the Korean RABV isolates originated from a rabid raccoon dog in Northeastern Asia. Genetic analysis of the Korean RABV isolates revealed no substitutions at several antigenic sites, indicating that the isolates circulating in Korea may be pathogenic in several hosts.
doi:10.4142/jvs.2011.12.1.57
PMCID: PMC3053468  PMID: 21368564
characterization; genotype I; molecular epidemiology; rabies virus
7.  Intramuscular Inoculation of Mice with the Live-Attenuated Recombinant Rabies Virus TriGAS Results in a Transient Infection of the Draining Lymph Nodes and a Robust, Long-Lasting Protective Immune Response against Rabies 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1834-1841.
A single intramuscular application of the live but not UV-inactivated recombinant rabies virus (RABV) variant TriGAS in mice induces the robust and sustained production of RABV-neutralizing antibodies that correlate with long-term protection against challenge with an otherwise lethal dose of the wild-type RABV. To obtain insight into the mechanism by which live TriGAS induces long-lasting protective immunity, quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis of muscle tissue, draining lymph nodes, spleen, spinal cord, and brain at different times after TriGAS inoculation revealed the presence of significant copy numbers of RABV-specific RNA in muscle, lymph node, and to a lesser extent, spleen for several days postinfection. Notably, no significant amounts of RABV RNA were detected in brain or spinal cord at any time after TriGAS inoculation. Differential qPCR analysis revealed that the RABV-specific RNA detected in muscle is predominantly genomic RNA, whereas RABV RNA detected in draining lymph nodes is predominantly mRNA. Comparison of genomic RNA and mRNA obtained from isolated lymph node cells showed the highest mRNA-to-genomic-RNA ratios in B cells and dendritic cells (DCs), suggesting that these cells represent the major cell population that is infected in the lymph node. Since RABV RNA declined to undetectable levels by 14 days postinoculation of TriGAS, we speculate that a transient infection of DCs with TriGAS may be highly immunostimulatory through mechanisms that enhance antigen presentation. Our results support the superior efficacy and safety of TriGAS and advocate for its utility as a vaccine.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02589-12
PMCID: PMC3554143  PMID: 23192867
8.  Molecular Diversity of Rabies Viruses Associated with Bats in Mexico and Other Countries of the Americas 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(5):1697-1710.
Bat rabies and its transmission to humans and other species in Mexico were investigated. Eighty-nine samples obtained from rabid livestock, cats, dogs, and humans in Mexico were studied by antigenic typing and partial sequence analysis. Samples were further compared with enzootic rabies associated with different species of bats in the Americas. Patterns of nucleotide variation allowed the definition of at least 20 monophyletic clusters associated with 9 or more different bat species. Several lineages associated with distinctive antigenic patterns were found in rabies viruses related to rabies in vampire bats in Mexico. Vampire bat rabies virus lineages associated with antigenic variant 3 are widely spread from Mexico to South America, suggesting these lineages as the most likely ancestors of vampire bat rabies and the ones that have been moved by vampire bat populations throughout the Americas. Rabies viruses related to Lasiurus cinereus, Histiotus montanus, and some other not yet identified species of the genus Lasiurus were found circulating in Mexico. Long-range dissemination patterns of rabies are not necessarily associated with migratory bat species, as in the case of rabies in Desmodus rotundus and Histiotus montanus. Human rabies was associated with vampire bat transmission in most cases, and in one case, rabies transmission from free-tailed bats was inferred. The occurrence of rabies spillover from bats to domestic animals was also demonstrated. Genetic typing of rabies viruses allowed us to distinguish trends of disease dissemination and to address, in a preliminary fashion, aspects of the complex evolution of rabies viruses in different host-reservoir species.
doi:10.1128/JCM.44.5.1697-1710.2006
PMCID: PMC1479161  PMID: 16672396
9.  Immunization of mice with the non-toxic HC50 domain of botulinum neurotoxin presented by rabies virus particles induces a strong immune response affording protection against high-dose botulinum neurotoxin challenge 
Vaccine  2011;29(28):4638-4645.
We previously showed that rabies virus (RABV) virions are excellent vehicles for antigen presentation. Here, a reverse genetic approach was applied to generate recombinant RABV that express a chimeric protein composed of the heavy chain carboxyterminal half (HC50) of botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A) and RABV glycoprotein (G). To promote surface expression and incorporation of HC50/A into RABV virions, the RABV glycoprotein (G) ER translocation sequence, various fragments of RABV ectodomain (ED) and cytoplasmic domain were fused to HC50/A. The HC50/A chimeric proteins were expressed on the surface of cells infected with all of the recombinant RABVs, however, the highest level of surface expression was detected by utilizing 30 amino acids of the RABV G ED (HV50/A-E30). Our results also indicated that this chimeric protein was effectively incorporated into RABV virions. Immunization of mice with inactivated RABV-HC50/A-E30 virions induced a robust anti-HC50/A IgG antibody response that efficiently neutralized circulating BoNT/A in vivo, and protected mice against 1000 fold the lethal dose of BoNT/A.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.04.045
PMCID: PMC3114282  PMID: 21549784
10.  Molecular epidemiology of livestock rabies viruses isolated in the northeastern Brazilian states of Paraíba and Pernambuco from 2003 - 2009 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:32.
Background
Limited or no epidemiological information has been reported for rabies viruses (RABVs) isolated from livestock in the northeastern Brazilian states of Paraíba (PB) and Pernambuco (PE). The aim of this study was to clarify the molecular epidemiology of RABVs circulating in livestock, especially cattle, in these areas between 2003 and 2009.
Findings
Phylogenetic analysis based on 890 nt of the nucleoprotein (N) gene revealed that the 52 livestock-derived RABV isolates characterized here belonged to a single lineage. These isolates clustered with a vampire bat-related RABV lineage previously identified in other states in Brazil; within PB and PE, this lineage was divided between the previously characterized main lineage and a novel sub-lineage.
Conclusions
The occurrences of livestock rabies in PB and PE originated from vampire bat RABVs, and the causative RABV lineage has been circulating in this area of northeastern Brazil for at least 7 years. This distribution pattern may correlate to that of a vampire bat population isolated by geographic barriers.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-32
PMCID: PMC3285087  PMID: 22243739
11.  Transmission Dynamics and Prospects for the Elimination of Canine Rabies 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(3):e1000053.
Rabies has been eliminated from domestic dog populations in Western Europe and North America, but continues to kill many thousands of people throughout Africa and Asia every year. A quantitative understanding of transmission dynamics in domestic dog populations provides critical information to assess whether global elimination of canine rabies is possible. We report extensive observations of individual rabid animals in Tanzania and generate a uniquely detailed analysis of transmission biology, which explains important epidemiological features, including the level of variation in epidemic trajectories. We found that the basic reproductive number for rabies, R0, is very low in our study area in rural Africa (∼1.2) and throughout its historic global range (<2). This finding provides strong support for the feasibility of controlling endemic canine rabies by vaccination, even near wildlife areas with large wild carnivore populations. However, we show that rapid turnover of domestic dog populations has been a major obstacle to successful control in developing countries, thus regular pulse vaccinations will be required to maintain population-level immunity between campaigns. Nonetheless our analyses suggest that with sustained, international commitment, global elimination of rabies from domestic dog populations, the most dangerous vector to humans, is a realistic goal.
Author Summary
Canine rabies has been successfully eliminated from Western Europe and North America, but in the developing world, someone dies every ten minutes from this horrific disease, which is primarily spread by domestic dogs. A quantitative understanding of rabies transmission dynamics in domestic dog populations is crucial to determining whether global elimination can be achieved. The unique pathology of rabies allowed us to trace case-to-case transmission directly, during a rabies outbreak in northern Tanzania. From these unusual data, we generated a detailed analysis of rabies transmission biology and found evidence for surprisingly low levels of transmission. We also analysed outbreak data from around the world and found that the transmission of canine rabies has been inherently low throughout its global historic range, explaining the success of control efforts in developed countries. However, we show that when birth and death rates in domestic dog populations are high, such as in our study populations in Tanzania, it is more difficult to maintain population-level immunity in between vaccination campaigns. Nonetheless, we conclude that, although the level of vaccination coverage required is higher than would be predicted from naïve transmission models, global elimination of canine rabies can be achieved through appropriately designed, sustained domestic dog vaccination campaigns.
Low transmission rates in rural Africa and elsewhere suggest that sustained, appropriately designed domestic dog vaccination campaigns could lead to global elimination of canine rabies, which would save over 50,000 human lives per year.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000053
PMCID: PMC2653555  PMID: 19278295
12.  Rabies in South Indian Cows: An evidence of Sri Lankan Rabies virus Variant Infection Based on the Analysis of Partial Nucleoprotein Gene 
Rabies is a highly fatal non-suppurative encephalomyelitis, caused by the Rabies virus. Dogs are the major reservoir of rabies in India and are the source of infection to other domestic animals. In this report, laboratory investigation and molecular characterization of isolates from two cows with paralytic rabies is described. Necropsy brain samples from the two cows were tested for the presence of rabies antigen using a fluorescent antibody test and the results were confirmed using RT-PCR. Rabies virus was successfully isolated from both the brain samples in a murine neuroblastoma cell line. The phylogenetic analysis of partial nucleoprotein gene sequences of these isolates showed them to be of a variant of Rabies virus which is closely related to the Sri Lankan Rabies virus lineage as previously reported. In addition, partial nucleoprotein genes of 19 more Rabies virus isolates from southern India were sequenced and of these 11 isolates were found to be closely related to the Sri Lankan lineage. The deduced amino acid sequences of the partial nucleoprotein of the Indian isolates were 96–99% identical to the Sri Lankan isolates. This investigation re-confirms the previous speculations that the Sri Lankan variant of the virus may still be actively transmitted by animals in India.
doi:10.1007/s13337-011-0050-3
PMCID: PMC3550735  PMID: 23637516
Rabies; India; Sri Lankan variant
13.  Epidemiology of Urban Canine Rabies, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 1972–1997 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(5):458-461.
We analyzed laboratory data from 1972 to 1997 from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to determine risk factors for laboratory canine samples’ testing positive for Rabies virus (RABV). Of 9,803 samples, 50.7% tested positive for RABV; the number of cases and the percentage positive has dropped significantly since 1978. A 5- to 6-year cycle in rabies incidence was clearly apparent, though no seasonality was noted. Male dogs had significantly increased odds of testing positive for RABV (odds ratio [OR]=1.14), as did 1- to 2-year-old dogs (OR=1.73); younger and older dogs were at lower risk. Samples submitted from the poorer suburbs of the city were more likely to test positive for RABV (OR=1.71). We estimated the distribution of endemic canine rabies in an urban environment to facilitate control measures in a resource-poor environment.
doi:10.3201/eid0805.010302
PMCID: PMC2732486  PMID: 11996678
Epidemiology; rabies; Bolivia; urban health; risk factors; canine
14.  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
15.  Involvement of the Rabies Virus Phosphoprotein Gene in Neuroinvasiveness 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(22):12327-12338.
Rabies virus (RABV), which is transmitted via a bite wound caused by a rabid animal, infects peripheral nerves and then spreads to the central nervous system (CNS) before causing severe neurological symptoms and death in the infected individual. Despite the importance of this ability of the virus to spread from a peripheral site to the CNS (neuroinvasiveness) in the pathogenesis of rabies, little is known about the mechanism underlying the neuroinvasiveness of RABV. In this study, to obtain insights into the mechanism, we conducted comparative analysis of two fixed RABV strains, Nishigahara and the derivative strain Ni-CE, which cause lethal and asymptomatic infections, respectively, in mice after intramuscular inoculation. Examination of a series of chimeric viruses harboring the respective genes from Nishigahara in the genetic background of Ni-CE revealed that the Nishigahara phosphoprotein (P) gene plays a major role in the neuroinvasiveness by mediating infection of peripheral nerves. The results obtained from both in vivo and in vitro experiments strongly suggested that the Nishigahara P gene, but not the Ni-CE P gene, is important for stable viral replication in muscle cells. Further investigation based on the previous finding that RABV phosphoprotein counteracts the host interferon (IFN) system demonstrated that the Nishigahara P gene, but not the Ni-CE P gene, functions to suppress expression of the beta interferon (IFN-β) gene (Ifn-β) and IFN-stimulated genes in muscle cells. In conclusion, we provide the first data strongly suggesting that RABV phosphoprotein assists viral replication in muscle cells by counteracting the host IFN system and, consequently, enhances infection of peripheral nerves.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02132-13
PMCID: PMC3807887  PMID: 24027304
16.  Skunk and Raccoon Rabies in the Eastern United States: Temporal and Spatial Analysis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(9):1143-1150.
Since 1981, an epizootic of raccoon rabies has spread throughout the eastern United States. A concomitant increase in reported rabies cases in skunks has raised concerns that an independent maintenance cycle of rabies virus in skunks could become established, affecting current strategies of wildlife rabies control programs. Rabies surveillance data from 1981 through 2000 obtained from the health departments of 11 eastern states were used to analyze temporal and spatial characteristics of rabies epizootics in each species. Spatial analysis indicated that epizootics in raccoons and skunks moved in a similar direction from 1990 to 2000. Temporal regression analysis showed that the number of rabid raccoons predicted the number of rabid skunks through time, with a 1-month lag. In areas where the raccoon rabies virus variant is enzootic, spatio-temporal analysis does not provide evidence that this rabies virus variant is currently cycling independently among skunks.
doi:10.3201/eid0909.020608
PMCID: PMC3016792  PMID: 14519253
Rabies; epizootic; raccoon; skunk; wildlife; zoonosis; spatial analysis; eastern United States
17.  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
18.  Metapopulation dynamics of rabies and the efficacy of vaccination 
Spatial structure in a host population results in heterogeneity in transmission dynamics. We used a Bayesian framework to evaluate competing metapopulation models of rabies transmission among domestic dog populations in villages in Tanzania. A proximate indicator of disease, medical records of animal-bite injuries, is used to infer the occurrence (presence/absence) of suspected rabid dog cases in one month intervals. State-space models were used to explore the implications of different levels of reporting probability on model parameter estimates. We find evidence for a relatively high rate of infection of these populations from neighbouring districts or from other species distributed throughout the study area, rather than from adjacent wildlife protected areas, suggesting wildlife is unlikely to be implicated in the long-term persistence of rabies. Stochastic simulation of our highest ranked models in vaccinated and hypothetical unvaccinated populations indicated that pulsed vaccination campaigns occurring from 2002 to 2007 reduced rabies occurrence by 57.3 per cent in vaccinated villages in the 1 year following each pulse, and that a similar regional campaign would deliver an 80.9 per cent reduction in occurrence. This work demonstrates how a relatively coarse, proximate sentinel of rabies infection is useful for making inferences about spatial disease dynamics and the efficacy of control measures.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2312
PMCID: PMC3107631  PMID: 21159675
rabies; vaccination efficacy; patch occupancy; state-space model; spatial transmission
19.  Reduced viral burden in paralytic compared to furious canine rabies is associated with prominent inflammation at the brainstem level 
Background
The mechanisms that differentiate rabies infections into furious and paralytic forms remain undetermined. There are no neuropathological features in human brains that distinguish furious and paralytic rabies. This could be due to methodology and/or examination of specimens late in the disease course.
In this study, postmortem examination of brain (5 furious and 5 paralytic) and spinal cord (3 furious and 3 paralytic) specimens was performed in 10 rabies-infected dogs, sacrificed shortly after developing the illness. Rabies virus (RABV) antigen (percentage of positive neurons, average antigen area in positive neurons and average antigen area per neuron) and RNA were quantified at 15 different central nervous system (CNS) regions. The distribution and degree of inflammation were also studied.
Results
More RABV antigen was detected in furious rabies than paralytic in many of the CNS regions studied. Caudal-rostral polarity of viral antigen distribution was found in both clinical forms in order from greatest to least: spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, midline structures (caudate, thalamus), hippocampus, and cerebrum. In contrast, RABV RNA was most abundant in the cerebral midline structures. Viral RNA was found at significantly higher levels in the cerebral cortex, thalamus, midbrain and medulla of dogs with the furious subtype. The RNA levels in the spinal cord were comparable in both clinical forms. A striking inflammatory response was found in paralytic rabies in the brainstem.
Conclusions
These observations provide preliminary evidence that RABV antigen and RNA levels are higher in the cerebrum in furious rabies compared to the paralytic form. In addition, brainstem inflammation, more pronounced in paralytic rabies, may impede viral propagation towards the cerebral hemispheres.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-31
PMCID: PMC3617073  PMID: 23410236
Rabies; Furious rabies; Paralytic rabies; Rabies viral antigen; Inflammation
20.  Ecology of Rabies Virus Exposure in Colonies of Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) at Natural and Man-Made Roosts in Texas 
Abstract
Previous studies have investigated rabies virus (RABV) epizootiology in Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) in natural cave roosts. However, little is known about geographic variation in RABV exposure, or if the use of man-made roosts by this species affects enzootic RABV infection dynamics within colonies. We sampled rabies viral neutralizing antibodies in bats at three bridge and three cave roosts at multiple time points during the reproductive season to investigate temporal and roost variation in RABV exposure. We report seropositive bats in all age and sex classes with minimal geographic variation in RABV seroprevalence among Brazilian free-tailed bat colonies in south-central Texas. While roost type was not a significant predictor of RABV seroprevalence, it was significantly associated with seasonal fluctuations, suggesting patterns of exposure that differ between roosts. Temporal patterns suggest increased RABV seroprevalence after parturition in cave colonies, potentially related to an influx of susceptible young, in contrast to more uniform seroprevalence in bridge colonies. This study highlights the importance of life history and roost ecology in understanding patterns of RABV seroprevalence in colonies of the Brazilian free-tailed bat.
doi:10.1089/vbz.2008.0163
PMCID: PMC2944840  PMID: 19492942
Brazilian free-tailed bat; Epizootiology; Rabies virus; Roost ecology
21.  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
22.  Rabies control in rural Africa: Evaluating strategies for effective domestic dog vaccination 
Vaccine  2008;27(1):152-160.
Effective vaccination campaigns need to reach a sufficient percentage of the population to eliminate disease and prevent future outbreaks, which for rabies is predicted to be 70%, at a cost that is economically and logistically sustainable. Domestic dog rabies has been increasing across most of sub-Saharan Africa indicating that dog vaccination programmes to date have been inadequate. We compare the effectiveness of a variety of dog vaccination strategies in terms of their cost and coverage in different community settings in rural Tanzania. Central-point (CP) vaccination was extremely effective in agro-pastoralist communities achieving a high coverage (>80%) at a low cost (US$5/dog) and inadequate (<20% coverage); combined approaches using CP and either house-to-house vaccination or trained community-based animal health workers were most effective with coverage exceeding 70%, although costs were still high (>US$6 and >US$4/dog, respectively). No single vaccination strategy is likely to be effective in all populations and therefore alternative approaches must be deployed under different settings. CP vaccination is cost-effective and efficient for the majority of dog populations in rural Tanzania and potentially elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, whereas a combination strategy is necessary in remote pastoralist communities. These results suggest that rabies control is logistically feasible across most of the developing world and that the annual costs of effective vaccination campaigns in Tanzania are likely to be affordable.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.09.054
PMCID: PMC3272409  PMID: 18848595
Cost-effectiveness; Vaccination strategy; Rabies; Vaccination coverage
23.  Susceptibility and Pathogenesis of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) to Heterologous and Homologous Rabies Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(16):9008-9015.
Rabies virus (RABV) maintenance in bats is not well understood. Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), and Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are the most common bats species in the United States. These colonial bat species also have the most frequent contact with humans and domestic animals. However, the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) RABV is associated with the majority of human rabies virus infections in the United States and Canada. This is of interest because silver-haired bats are more solitary bats with infrequent human interaction. Our goal was to determine the likelihood of a colonial bat species becoming infected with and transmitting a heterologous RABV. To ascertain the potential of heterologous RABV infection in colonial bat species, little brown bats were inoculated with a homologous RABV or one of two heterologous RABVs. Additionally, to determine if the route of exposure influenced the disease process, bats were inoculated either intramuscularly (i.m.) or subcutaneously (s.c.) with a homologous or heterologous RABV. Our results demonstrate that intramuscular inoculation results in a more rapid progression of disease onset, whereas the incubation time in bats inoculated s.c. is significantly longer. Additionally, cross protection was not consistently achieved in bats previously inoculated with a heterologous RABV following a challenge with a homologous RABV 6 months later. Finally, bats that developed rabies following s.c. inoculation were significantly more likely to shed virus in their saliva and demonstrated increased viral dissemination. In summary, bats inoculated via the s.c. route are more likely to shed virus, thus increasing the likelihood of transmission.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03554-12
PMCID: PMC3754046  PMID: 23741002
24.  The Roles of Chemokines in Rabies Virus Infection: Overexpression May Not Always Be Beneficial▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(22):11808-11818.
It was found previously that induction of innate immunity, particularly chemokines, is an important mechanism of rabies virus (RABV) attenuation. To evaluate the effect of overexpression of chemokines on RABV infection, chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α), RANTES, and IP-10 were individually cloned into the genome of attenuated RABV strain HEP-Flury. These recombinant RABVs were characterized in vitro for growth properties and expression of chemokines. It was found that all the recombinant viruses grew as well as the parent virus, and each of the viruses expressed the intended chemokine in a dose-dependent manner. When these viruses were evaluated for pathogenicity in the mouse model, it was found that overexpression of MIP-1α further decreased RABV pathogenicity by inducing a transient innate immune response. In contrast, overexpression of RANTES or IP-10 increased RABV pathogenicity by causing neurological diseases, which is due to persistent and high-level expression of chemokines, excessive infiltration and accumulation of inflammatory cells in the central nervous system, and severe enhancement of blood-brain barrier permeability. These studies indicate that overexpression of chemokines, although important in controlling virus infection, may not always be beneficial to the host.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01346-09
PMCID: PMC2772667  PMID: 19740983
25.  Reviving the African Wolf Canis lupus lupaster in North and West Africa: A Mitochondrial Lineage Ranging More than 6,000 km Wide 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42740.
The recent discovery of a lineage of gray wolf in North-East Africa suggests the presence of a cryptic canid on the continent, the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster. We analyzed the mtDNA diversity (cytochrome b and control region) of a series of African Canis including wolf-like animals from North and West Africa. Our objectives were to assess the actual range of C. l. lupaster, to further estimate the genetic characteristics and demographic history of its lineage, and to question its taxonomic delineation from the golden jackal C. aureus, with which it has been considered synonymous. We confirmed the existence of four distinct lineages within the gray wolf, including C. lupus/familiaris (Holarctic wolves and dogs), C. l. pallipes, C. l. chanco and C. l. lupaster. Taxonomic assignment procedures identified wolf-like individuals from Algeria, Mali and Senegal, as belonging to C. l. lupaster, expanding its known distribution c. 6,000 km to the west. We estimated that the African wolf lineage (i) had the highest level of genetic diversity within C. lupus, (ii) coalesced during the Late Pleistocene, contemporaneously with Holarctic wolves and dogs, and (iii) had an effective population size of c. 80,000 females. Our results suggest that the African wolf is a relatively ancient gray wolf lineage with a fairly large, past effective population size, as also suggested by the Pleistocene fossil record. Unique field observations in Senegal allowed us to provide a morphological and behavioral diagnosis of the African wolf that clearly distinguished it from the sympatric golden jackal. However, the detection of C. l. lupaster mtDNA haplotypes in C. aureus from Senegal brings the delineation between the African wolf and the golden jackal into question. In terms of conservation, it appears urgent to further characterize the status of the African wolf with regard to the African golden jackal.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042740
PMCID: PMC3416759  PMID: 22900047

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