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1.  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.
PMCID: PMC3380930  PMID: 22737076
2.  The development and use of a vaccinia-rabies recombinant oral vaccine for the control of wildlife rabies; a link between Jenner and Pasteur. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1996;116(3):235-240.
To improve both safety and stability of the oral vaccines used in the field to vaccinate foxes against rabies, a recombinant vaccinia virus, which expresses the immunizing G protein of rabies virus has been developed by inserting the cDNA which codes for the immunogenic glycoprotein of rabies virus into the thymidine kinase (TK) gene of the Copenhagen strain of vaccinia virus. The efficacy of this vaccine was tested by the oral route, primarily in foxes. The immunity conferred, a minimum of 12 months in cubs and 18 months in adult animals, corresponds to the duration of the protection required for vaccination of foxes in the field. Innocuity was tested in foxes, domestic animals, and in numerous European wild animal species that could compete with the red fox for the vaccine bait. No clinical signs or lesions were observed in any of the vaccinated animals during a minimum of 28 days post vaccination. Moreover, no transmission of immunizing doses of the recombinant occurred between foxes or other species tested. To study the stability of the vaccine strain, baits containing the vaccine were placed in the field. Despite considerable variations of environmental temperatures, the vaccine remained stable for at least one month. Because bait is taken within one month, it can be assumed that most animals taking the baits are effectively vaccinated. To test the field efficacy of the recombinant vaccine, large-scale campaigns of fox vaccination were set up in a 2200 km2 region of southern Belgium, were rabies was prevalent. A dramatic decrease in the incidence of rabies was noted after the campaigns. The recombinant is presently used to control wildlife rabies in the field both in several European countries and in the United States.
PMCID: PMC2271442  PMID: 8666066
3.  Use of Discriminatory Probes for Strain Typing of Formalin-Fixed, Rabies Virus-Infected Tissues by In Situ Hybridization 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(9):4343-4352.
An in situ hybridization (ISH) method has been developed to overcome difficulties encountered in the viral typing of formalin-fixed rabies virus-infected brain tissue. Rabies viruses representative of all strains normally encountered in diagnostic submissions throughout Canada, including 3 strains of terrestrial hosts (arctic fox, western skunk, mid-Atlantic raccoon), 10 strains circulating in several bat reservoirs (BBCAN1 to BBCAN7, LACAN, SHCAN, and MYCAN), and the Evelyn-Rokitniki-Abelseth (ERA) strain, used as an oral vaccine for fox rabies control in Ontario, were targeted. Partial phosphoprotein gene fragments generated from reverse transcription (RT)-PCR products of specimens of each viral type were molecularly cloned and used to produce negative-sense digoxigenin-labeled RNA transcripts. Conditions permitting the use of these transcripts as strain-specific probes were optimized by blotting analyses with RT-PCR amplicons generated with representative rabies viruses and by ISH applied to mouse brains inoculated with these strains. The successful application of this methodology to two rabies virus-positive specimens that were also identified by traditional methods and the retrospective typing of two archival rabies virus-positive equine specimens is described. This technique provides a typing regimen for rabies virus isolates submitted in a form that is normally recalcitrant to alternate typing strategies.
PMCID: PMC193863  PMID: 12958267
4.  Studies on the stability of a human adenovirus-rabies recombinant vaccine. 
Human adenovirus type 5 containing the rabies virus glycoprotein gene (rHAd-RG1) has potential for the oral vaccination of animals. The stability of this recombinant was tested indoors and outdoors by measuring the loss in virus infectivity. Under indoor conditions the stability of the recombinant virus was studied in an egg yolk-containing commercial stabilizer and a simple buffered salt solution (EBSS; Earle's balanced salt solution) at 4 degrees C and room temperature (24-25 degrees C). Over 16 days, there was a more rapid loss in virus titer at room temperature than at 4 degrees C in both suspending media; however, these differences were slight and may be significant when the overall stability of the vaccine is considered. When the virus was mixed with either 10% (w/v) fox or skunk feces or EBSS, placed on stainless steel disks and the disks kept under ambient conditions (air temperature 24-25 degrees C; relative humidity 45-50%), there was a more rapid decline in virus titer in the fecal suspensions (3% remained after 72 h) than in EBSS (26% remained after 72 h). When bait-coated blister packs of the vaccine were placed in an outdoor location in the fall (October) season, there was a larger drop in the virus titer for vaccines placed in the sun (54% over 32 days) than for those in the shade (40% over 32 days). Incorporating proteinaceous stabilizers in the vaccine samples for outdoor study showed virus stability was not enhanced in their presence.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC1263499  PMID: 1586891
5.  Elimination of Arctic Variant Rabies in Red Foxes, Metropolitan Toronto 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2007;13(1):25-27.
To control the arctic variant of rabies virus in red foxes, 332,257 bait doses containing live, attenuated Evelyn-Rokitnicki-Abelseth rabies vaccine were distributed in greater metropolitan Toronto during 1989–1999. Human and pet contact with bait was minimal, and no adverse reactions to the vaccine were noted. Significantly fewer rabid foxes were found during the 17 years after fox baiting (5 cases during 1990–2006) than in the 17 years before (96 cases during 1973–1989). The last report of a rabid fox in metropolitan Toronto was in 1996 (reporting period through September 2006), which confirms that distributing oral rabies vaccine bait is a feasible tactic for the control of rabies in foxes in urban environments.
PMCID: PMC2725809  PMID: 17370512
Ontario; rabies; red fox; Vulpes vulpes; research
6.  Extensive Attenuation of Rabies Virus by Simultaneously Modifying the Dynein Light Chain Binding Site in the P Protein and Replacing Arg333 in the G Protein 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(23):11496-11502.
Rabies virus (RV) is a highly neurotropic virus that migrates from the portal of entry to the central nervous system (CNS). The cytoplasmic dynein light chain (LC8), which is involved in a variety of intracellular motile events, was shown to interact with RV phosphoprotein (P). In order to determine the functional significance of this interaction, P residues 143 to 149 or 139 to 149 encompassing a conserved LC8-interacting motif (K/RXTQT) were deleted from recombinant viruses SAD-L16 and SAD-D29. These viruses are identical except for a replacement of the arginine at position 333 (R333) of the RV glycoprotein by an aspartic acid in SAD-D29. SAD-L16 virus is fully pathogenic for mice, whereas SAD-D29 is nonpathogenic for adult mice but retained pathogenicity for suckling mice. The deletions introduced into the LC8 binding site abolished the P-LC8 interaction and blocked LC8 incorporation into virions. All the mutants propagated in cell culture as efficiently as the parent strains. The pathogenicity of the mutants was then compared with that of the parent viruses by inoculating suckling mice. SAD-L16 derivatives were as pathogenic as their parent virus after intramuscular inoculation, indicating that LC8 is dispensable for the spread of a pathogenic RV from a peripheral site to the CNS. In contrast, SAD-D29-derived deletion mutants were attenuated by as much as 30-fold after intramuscular inoculation but remained as pathogenic as the parent virus when inoculated directly into the brain. This remarkable attenuation after intramuscular but not after intracranial inoculation suggested that abolishing the P-LC8 interaction reduces the efficiency of peripheral spread of the more attenuated SAD-D29 strain. These results demonstrate that elimination of the LC8 ligand and simultaneous substitution of R333 considerably attenuate RV pathogenicity and may be helpful in designing and developing highly safe live-RV-based vaccines.
PMCID: PMC114736  PMID: 11689631
7.  Relaxation of Purifying Selection on the SAD Lineage of Live Attenuated Oral Vaccines for Rabies Virus 
Analysis of patterns of nucleotide sequence diversity in wild-type rabies virus (RABV) genomes and in the SAD live attenuated oral vaccine lineage was used to test for the relaxation of purifying selection in the latter and provide evidence regarding the genomic regions where such relaxation of selection occurs. The wild-type sequences showed evidence of strong past and ongoing purifying selection both on non-synonymous sites in coding regions and on non-coding regions, particularly the start and end and 5’ UTR regions. SAD vaccine sequences showed a relaxation of purifying selection at nonsynonymous sites in coding regions, resulting a substantial number of amino acid sequence polymorphisms at sites that were invariant in the wild-type sequences. Moreover, SAD vaccine sequences showed high levels of mutation accumulation in the non-coding regions that were most conserved in the wild-type sequences. Understanding the biological effects of the unique mutations accumulated in the vaccine lineage is important because of their potential effects on antigenicity and effectiveness of the vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2720423  PMID: 19409512
8.  The safety and efficacy of immunizing foxes (Vulpes vulpes) using bait containing attenuated rabies virus vaccine. 
Foxes given ERA rabies vaccine baits were challenged at one, six, 12 and 24 months later and showed a resistance to challenge in 80%, 78%, 60% and 44% of individuals respectively. All animals showing seroconversion following vaccination, resisted challenge at 24 months, suggesting that successful vaccination by the oral route could confer a relatively long term duration of immunity. The trials showed that fox pups did not immunize as easily as adult foxes using ERA rabies vaccine baits. Back-passage studies and the consumption of ERA injected mice by foxes failed to show any reversion of the vaccine virus to a virulent state. The fox and mouse are shown to be highly susceptible to rabies street virus, while the domestic species tested are consisderably more resistant. Monkeys were found to be intermediate in susceptibility to the virus. Safety tests carried out on various species of wildlife showed only the mouse to be susceptible to infection from ingesting the vaccine in the form of a bait. ERA rabies vaccine was shown to be safe in monkeys even when high titred virus was administered by the oral route.
PMCID: PMC1320053  PMID: 7407689
9.  The Phylogeography and Spatiotemporal Spread of South-Central Skunk Rabies Virus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82348.
The south-central skunk rabies virus (SCSK) is the most broadly distributed terrestrial viral lineage in North America. Skunk rabies has not been efficiently targeted by oral vaccination campaigns and represents a natural system of pathogen invasion, yielding insights to rabies emergence. In the present study we reconstructed spatiotemporal spread of SCSK in the whole territory of its circulation using a combination of Bayesian methods. The analysis based on 241 glycoprotein gene sequences demonstrated that SCSK is much more divergent phylogenetically than was appreciated previously. According to our analyses the SCSK originated in the territory of Texas ~170 years ago, and spread geographically during the following decades. The wavefront velocity in the northward direction was significantly greater than in the eastward and westward directions. Rivers (except the Mississippi River and Rio Grande River) did not constitute significant barriers for epizootic spread, in contrast to deserts and mountains. The mean dispersal rate of skunk rabies was lower than that of the raccoon and fox rabies. Viral lineages circulate in their areas with limited evidence of geographic spread during decades. However, spatiotemporal reconstruction shows that after a long period of stability the dispersal rate and wavefront velocity of SCSK are increasing. Our results indicate that there is a need to develop control measures for SCSK, and suggest how such measure can be implemented most efficiently. Our approach can be extrapolated to other rabies reservoirs and used as a tool for investigation of epizootic patterns and planning interventions towards disease elimination.
PMCID: PMC3849458  PMID: 24312657
10.  Safety and immunogenicity of a vaccine bait containing ERA strain of attenuated rabies virus. 
Ninety percent of foxes fed commercial ERA vaccine in a specially designed bait developed rabies serum neutralizing antibodies. The vaccine bait did not cause clinical signs of rabies when consumed by foxes, raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats, cattle and monkeys. When presented, in the laboratory, to wild rodents of the species Microtus, Mus musculus and Peromyscus, the vaccine baits caused vaccine-induced rabies only in Mus musculus. Laboratory mice of the CD-1 and CLL strain were susceptible to vaccine-induced rabies; however, studies showed that transmission of virus to other animals did not occur. These studies suggest that the vaccine bait described could be useful in a rabies control program in areas where foxes and wild dogs are the principal vectors.
PMCID: PMC1255365  PMID: 3330965
11.  Second-Generation Rabies Virus-Based Vaccine Vectors Expressing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Gag Have Greatly Reduced Pathogenicity but Are Highly Immunogenic 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(1):237-244.
Rabies virus (RV) vaccine strain-based vectors show great promise as vaccines against other viral diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and hepatitis C, but a low residual pathogenicity remains a concern for their use. Here we describe several highly attenuated second-generation RV-based vaccine vehicles expressing HIV-1 Gag. For this approach, we modified the previously described RV vaccine vector SPBN by replacing the arginine at position 333 (R333) within the RV glycoprotein (G) with glutamic acid (E333), deleting 43 amino acids of the RV G cytoplasmic domain (CD), or combining the R333 exchange and the CD deletion. In addition, we constructed a new RV vector that expresses HIV-1 Gag from an RV transcription unit upstream of the RV phosphoprotein gene (BNSP-Gag) instead of upstream of the G gene. As expected and as demonstrated for SPBN-Gag, all vaccine vehicles were apathogenic after peripheral administration. However, the new, second-generation vaccine vectors containing modifications in the RV G were also apathogenic after intracranial infection with 105 infectious particles, and BNSP-Gag produced a 50%-reduced mortality in mice. Of note, the observed attenuation of pathogenicity did not result in either the attenuation of the humoral response against the RV G or the previously observed robust cellular response against HIV-1 Gag. These findings demonstrate that very safe and highly effective RV-based vaccines can be constructed and further emphasize their potential utility as efficacious antiviral vaccines.
PMCID: PMC140592  PMID: 12477829
12.  Oral vaccination of raccoons (Procyon lotor) with genetically modified rabies virus vaccines 
Vaccine  2007;25(42):7296-7300.
Oral vaccination is an important tool currently in use to control the spread of rabies in wildlife populations in various programs around the world. Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of raccoons represents the largest targeted program to control wildlife rabies in the United States. Currently, the vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein recombinant virus vaccine (V-RG) is the only licensed oral rabies vaccine in the US. In the current study, captive raccoons were used to evaluate two previously described constructs of a rabies virus vaccine developed by reverse genetics (SPBNGAS and SPBNGAS-GAS) for immunogenicity and efficacy compared to the V-RG vaccine. Four of five control animals succumbed to rabies virus after severe challenge, while three of five animals vaccinated orally with SPBNGAS succumbed. No mortality was observed for animals administered SPBNGAS-GAS or the V-RG vaccine. The results of this preliminary study suggest that SPBNGAS-GAS provides comparable efficacy to V-RG. Additional studies will be needed to determine the duration of immunity and optimal dosage of SPBNGAS-GAS and to examine its efficacy in other reservoir species.
PMCID: PMC2094212  PMID: 17826874
Rabies; Vaccine; Raccoons; Oral
13.  Immune response in skunks to a vaccinia virus recombinant expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein. 
Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were vaccinated with a vaccinia virus recombinant expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein. Virus neutralizing antibodies to rabies virus were present at 14 days postvaccination by the following routes: scarification (6/6), intramuscular (4/4) and intestinal (5/8). Six out of seven skunks that ate vaccine filled baits had virus neutralizing antibodies at 28 days. When challenged intramuscularly with street virus, the survival rates were 5/7 for the bait-fed group, 4/8 for the intestinal group, 3/4 for the intramuscular group, 5/6 for the animals that were scarified, and 0/8 for controls. This is the first report of a high rate of immunization of skunks with a rabies vaccine administered orally.
PMCID: PMC1255338  PMID: 3651890
14.  Strains of Rabies Virus Available for Preparation of Sylvatic Rabies Vaccines with Special Reference to Vaccines Prepared in Cell Culture 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  1981;22(8):262-266.
Rabies vaccines for use as a preventive in wildlife have not yet been licensed.
There are several vaccines which, based on tests in dogs, merit trial especially in foxes and skunks and these are summarized in a table.
Trials are being conducted in Canada on the effectiveness of several of these vaccines in foxes and skunks.
PMCID: PMC1789966  PMID: 7340931
15.  Mutants of rabies viruses in skunks: immune response and pathogenicity. 
In studies to develop an oral rabies vaccine for wildlife, the immune response to and pathogenicity of two types of mutants of rabies viruses were examined. Forty-five small plaque mutants were selected from cultures of ERA rabies virus treated with 8-azaguanine or 5-fluorouracil and tested for pathogenicity in mice. Two of these mutants AZA 1 and AZA 2 (low pathogenicity in mice) were given to skunks by oral (bait), intestinal (endoscope) and intramuscular routes. Additionally, challenge virus standard (CVS) rabies virus and mutants of this and ERA rabies virus (CVS 3766 and 3713, and ERA 3629) that were resistant to neutralization by specific antiglycoprotein monoclonal antibodies (and apathogenic in mice) were tested by various routes in skunks. Skunks given AZA 1 and AZA 2 were challenged at three months postinoculation with street rabies virus. After oral administration, there were very low rates of seroconversion with AZA 1 and AZA 2 and on challenge only 2/7 given AZA 1 and 1/8 given AZA 2 survived. None of the skunks given the other mutants orally seroconverted. AZA 2 produced a high rate of seroconversion (8/8) by the intestinal route and all challenged skunks in this group survived (7/7). All skunks vaccinated intramuscularly with AZA 1 (4/4) or AZA 2 (4/4) developed high levels of rabies neutralizing antibodies and survived challenge. The mutant CVS 3766, while apathogenic when given intracerebrally to adult mice, was consistently pathogenic by this route (and intranasally) in skunks. These results demonstrate that skunks are highly resistant to oral immunization by live rabies virus vaccines and that pathogenicity (by intracerebral route) of the mutant CVS 3766 is markedly different in mice and skunks.
PMCID: PMC1255625  PMID: 2306670
16.  Sylvatic Rabies Studies in the Silver Fox (Vulpes vulpes). Susceptibility and Immune Response 
The trials reported here show that the fox is highly susceptible to rabies virus. Vaccination with ERA rabies vaccine was capable of protecting foxes against challenge with naturally occurring strains of sylvatic rabies.
Oral immunization against rabies using ERA rabies vaccine was possible.
PMCID: PMC1319471  PMID: 4249093
17.  Experimental rabies in skunks: oral, nasal, tracheal and intestinal exposure. 
Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were exposed to challenge virus standard rabies virus by feeding infected mouse brain in suspension or as intact brain free choice, by forced feeding of suspension, and by intranasal, intratracheal and intraintestinal instillation of suspension. All of five skunks exposed intranasally, two of five exposed intratracheally and two of ten exposed by forced feeding developed rabies. None of the skunks exposed to challenge virus standard virus, by other methods, became rabid. Most of the survivors, when challenged intramuscularly with street rabies virus at six months, developed rabies. The results indicate that the skunk is much more susceptible to challenge virus standard rabies virus given intranasally than by the other methods used. When disease occurs following oral administration, infection may be associated with prolonged contact with buccal mucosa or accidental contact with nasal mucosa. Survivors had little or no protection when challenged intramuscularly with street rabies virus.
PMCID: PMC1319912  PMID: 497886
18.  Interspecies protein substitution to investigate the role of the lyssavirus glycoprotein 
The Journal of General Virology  2013;94(Pt 2):284-292.
European bat lyssaviruses type 1 (EBLV-1) and type 2 (EBLV-2) circulate within bat populations throughout Europe and are capable of causing disease indistinguishable from that caused by classical rabies virus (RABV). However, the determinants of viral fitness and pathogenicity are poorly understood. Full-length genome clones based on the highly attenuated, non-neuroinvasive, RABV vaccine strain (SAD-B19) were constructed with the glycoprotein (G) of either SAD-B19 (SN), of EBLV-1 (SN-1) or EBLV-2 (SN-2). In vitro characterization of SN-1 and SN-2 in comparison to wild-type EBLVs demonstrated that the substitution of G affected the final virus titre and antigenicity. In vivo, following peripheral infection with a high viral dose (104 f.f.u.), animals infected with SN-1 had reduced survivorship relative to infection with SN, resulting in survivorship similar to animals infected with EBLV-1. The histopathological changes and antigen distribution observed for SN-1 were more representative of those observed with SN than with EBLV-1. EBLV-2 was unable to achieve a titre equivalent to that of the other viruses. Therefore, a reduced-dose experiment (103 f.f.u.) was undertaken in vivo to compare EBLV-2 and SN-2, which resulted in 100 % survivorship for all recombinant viruses (SN, SN-1 and SN-2) while clinical disease developed in mice infected with the EBLVs. These data indicate that interspecies replacement of G has an effect on virus titre in vitro, probably as a result of suboptimal G–matrix protein interactions, and influences the survival outcome following a peripheral challenge with a high virus titre in mice.
PMCID: PMC3709617  PMID: 23100360
19.  Genetic Dissection of Interferon-Antagonistic Functions of Rabies Virus Phosphoprotein: Inhibition of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 Activation Is Important for Pathogenicity▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(2):842-852.
The rabies virus (RV) phosphoprotein (P) is a type I interferon (IFN) antagonist preventing both transcriptional induction of IFN and IFN-mediated JAK/STAT signaling. In addition, P is an essential cofactor of the viral polymerase and is required for encapsidation of viral RNA into nucleoprotein during replication. By site-directed mutagenesis, we have identified a domain of P required for efficient inhibition of IFN induction. Phosphoproteins lacking amino acids (aa) 176 to 181, 182 to 186, or 176 to 186 were severely compromised in counteracting phosphorylation of IRF3 and IRF7 by TBK1 or IKKi while retaining the full capacity of preventing nuclear import of activated STATs and of supporting virus transcription and replication. Recombinant RV carrying the mutated phosphoproteins (the SAD ΔInd1, SAD ΔInd2, and SAD ΔInd1/2 viruses) activated IRF3 and beta IFN (IFN-β) transcription in infected cells but still blocked STAT-mediated expression of IFN-stimulated genes. Due to a somewhat higher transcription rate, the SAD ΔInd1 virus activated IRF3 more efficiently than the SAD ΔInd2 virus. After intracerebral injection into mouse brains at high doses, the SAD ΔInd1 virus was completely apathogenic for wild-type (wt) mice, while the SAD ΔInd2 virus was partially attenuated and caused a slower progression of lethal rabies than wt RV. Neurovirulence of IFN-resistant RV thus correlates with the capacity of the virus to prevent activation of IRF3 and IRF7.
PMCID: PMC3020028  PMID: 21084487
20.  Eliminating Rabies in Estonia 
The compulsory vaccination of pets, the recommended vaccination of farm animals in grazing areas and the extermination of stray animals did not succeed in eliminating rabies in Estonia because the virus was maintained in two main wildlife reservoirs, foxes and raccoon dogs. These two species became a priority target therefore in order to control rabies. Supported by the European Community, successive oral vaccination (OV) campaigns were conducted twice a year using Rabigen® SAG2 baits, beginning in autumn 2005 in North Estonia. They were then extended to the whole territory from spring 2006. Following the vaccination campaigns, the incidence of rabies cases dramatically decreased, with 266 cases in 2005, 114 in 2006, four in 2007 and three in 2008. Since March 2008, no rabies cases have been detected in Estonia other than three cases reported in summer 2009 and one case in January 2011, all in areas close to the South-Eastern border with Russia. The bait uptake was satisfactory, with tetracycline positivity rates ranging from 85% to 93% in foxes and from 82% to 88% in raccoon dogs. Immunisation rates evaluated by ELISA ranged from 34% to 55% in foxes and from 38% to 55% in raccoon dogs. The rabies situation in Estonia was compared to that of the other two Baltic States, Latvia and Lithuania. Despite regular OV campaigns conducted throughout their territory since 2006, and an improvement in the epidemiological situation, rabies has still not been eradicated in these countries. An analysis of the number of baits distributed and the funding allocated by the European Commission showed that the strategy for rabies control is more cost-effective in Estonia than in Latvia and Lithuania.
Author Summary
This paper reports the strategy of oral rabies vaccination of wildlife in Estonia, the measures undertaken to check the method's efficacy and the results obtained. Initiated in autumn 2005, oral vaccination programmes resulted in a dramatic decrease in rabies incidence. All the recommended tests were regularly applied, including the systematic testing of vaccine baits prior to release in the field, serological testing and bait uptake assessment in adult and young animals as well as the typing of all rabies virus isolates. The disease was completely controlled by March 2008, with only three cases reported in summer 2009 and one case in January 2011 in areas very close to the South-Eastern border. The costs associated with rabies control have been calculated and compared on a similar basis for the three Baltic countries. The example of rabies control in Estonia shows that rabies can be quickly and successfully eliminated through successive oral vaccination campaigns by strictly following the recommendations of international organisations. These recommendations concern general strategy, vaccination method and choice of vaccine. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing extensive data from a rabies control programme. The underlying strategy, leading to rabies elimination, is advantageous in terms of cost/effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC3289618  PMID: 22393461
21.  Preliminary Evaluation of Raboral V-RG® Oral Rabies Vaccine in Arctic Foxes (Vulpes lagopus) 
Journal of wildlife diseases  2011;47(4):1032-1035.
We tested the Raboral V-RG® recombinant oral rabies vaccine for its response in Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), the reservoir of rabies virus in the circumpolar North. The vaccine, which is currently the only licensed oral rabies vaccine in the United States, induced a strong antibody response and protected foxes against a challenge of 500,000 mouse intracerebral lethal dose 50% of an Arctic rabies virus variant. However, one unvaccinated control fox survived challenge with rabies virus, either indicating a high resistance of Arctic foxes to rabies infection or a previous exposure that induced immunity. This preliminary study suggested that Raboral V-RG vaccine may be efficacious in Arctic foxes.
PMCID: PMC3576811  PMID: 22102679
Arctic fox; oral vaccination; rabies; recombinant vaccine
22.  The use of an E1-deleted, replication-defective adenovirus recombinant expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein for early vaccination of mice against rabies virus. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(5):3677-3683.
An E1-deleted, replication-defective adenovirus recombinant of the human strain 5 expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein, termed, was tested in young mice. Mice immunized at birth with the construct developed antibodies to rabies virus and cytokine-secreting lymphocytes and were protected against subsequent challenge. Maternal immunity to rabies virus strongly interferes with vaccination of the offspring with a traditional inactivated rabies virus vaccine. The immune response to the rabies virus glycoprotein, as presented by the vaccine, on the other hand, was not impaired by maternal immunity. Even neonatal immunization of mice born to rabies virus-immune dams with construct resulted in a long-lasting protective immune response to rabies virus, suggesting that this type of vaccine could be useful for immunization shortly after birth. Nevertheless, pups born to virus-immune dams showed an impaired immune response to the rabies virus glycoprotein upon vaccination with the virus, indicating that maternal immunity to the vaccine carrier affected the offspring's immune response to rabies virus.
PMCID: PMC191516  PMID: 9094641
23.  Inactivated or Live-Attenuated Bivalent Vaccines That Confer Protection against Rabies and Ebola Viruses ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(20):10605-10616.
The search for a safe and efficacious vaccine for Ebola virus continues, as no current vaccine candidate is nearing licensure. We have developed (i) replication-competent, (ii) replication-deficient, and (iii) chemically inactivated rabies virus (RABV) vaccines expressing Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) glycoprotein (GP) by a reverse genetics system based on the SAD B19 RABV wildlife vaccine. ZEBOV GP is efficiently expressed by these vaccine candidates and is incorporated into virions. The vaccine candidates were avirulent after inoculation of adult mice, and viruses with a deletion in the RABV glycoprotein had greatly reduced neurovirulence after intracerebral inoculation in suckling mice. Immunization with live or inactivated RABV vaccines expressing ZEBOV GP induced humoral immunity against each virus and conferred protection from both lethal RABV and EBOV challenge in mice. The bivalent RABV/ZEBOV vaccines described here have several distinct advantages that may speed the development of inactivated vaccines for use in humans and potentially live or inactivated vaccines for use in nonhuman primates at risk of EBOV infection in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3187516  PMID: 21849459
24.  Immune Modulating Effect by a Phosphoprotein-deleted Rabies Virus Vaccine Vector Expressing Two Copies of the Rabies Virus Glycoprotein Gene 
Vaccine  2008;26(50):6405-6414.
The type of immune response induced by a vaccine is a critical factor that determines its effectiveness in preventing infection or disease. Inactivated and live rabies virus (RV) vaccine strains elicit an IgG1-biased and IgG1/IgG2a-balanced antibody response, respectively. However, IgG2a antibodies are potent inducers of anti-viral effector functions, and therefore, a viral vaccine vector that can elicit an IgG2a-biased antibody response may be more effective against RV infection. Here we describe the humoral immune response of a live replication-deficient phosphoprotein (P)-deleted RV vector (SPBN-ΔP), or a recombinant P-deleted virus that expresses two copies of the RV glycoprotein (G) gene (SPBN-ΔP-RVG), and compare it to a UV-inactivated RV. Mice inoculated with UV-inactivated RV induced predominantly an IgG1-specific antibody response, while live recombinant SPBN-ΔP exhibited a mixed IgG1/IgG2a antibody response, which is consistent with the isotype profiles from the replication-competent parental viruses. Survivorship in mice after pathogenic RV challenge indicates a ten-fold higher efficiency of live SPBN-ΔP compared to UV-inactivated SPBN-ΔP. In addition, SPBN-ΔP-RVG induced a more rapid and robust IgG2a response that protected mice more effectively than SPBN-ΔP. Of note, 103 ffu of SPBN-ΔP-RVG induced anti-RV antibodies that were 100% protective in mice against pathogenic RV challenge. The increased immune response was directed not only against RV G but also against the ribonucleoprotein (RNP), indicating that the expression of two RV G genes from SPBN-ΔP-RVG enhances the immune response to other RV antigens as well. In addition, Rag2 mice inoculated intramuscularly with 105 ffu/mouse of SPBN-ΔP showed no clinical signs of rabies, and no viral RNA was detected in the spinal cord or brain of inoculated mice. Therefore, the safety of the P-deleted vectors along with the onset and magnitude of the IgG2a-induced immune response by SPBN-ΔP-RVG indicate that this vector holds great promise as either a therapeutic or preventative vaccine against RV or other infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC2629409  PMID: 18804506
rabies virus; replication-deficient; viral vector; isotypes; antibody subclass; vaccine; phosphoprotein; post-exposure prophylaxis
25.  Community Survey after Rabies Outbreaks, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(6):932-938.
Educational outreach should inform the public about dangers of translocation of wild animals and general aspects of rabies.
Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, experienced notable outbreaks of rabies caused by a bat rabies virus variant in carnivore species in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009. The most recent epizootic involved transmission among skunk and fox populations and human exposures. Multiple, wide-ranging control efforts and health communications outreach were instituted in 2009, including a household survey given to community members. Although the Flagstaff community is knowledgeable about rabies and the ongoing outbreaks in general, gaps in knowledge about routes of exposure and potential hosts remain. Future educational efforts should include messages on the dangers of animal translocation and a focus on veterinarians and physicians as valuable sources for outreach. These results will be useful to communities experiencing rabies outbreaks as well as those at current risk.
PMCID: PMC3358150  PMID: 22607999
rabies virus; lyssavirus; rabies; health knowledge; attitudes; practice; outbreak; epizootic; community survey; viruses; zoonosis; Arizona; United States; USA; translocation; wild animals; wildlife; education

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