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.
Vampire bats are important rabies virus vectors, causing critical problems in both the livestock industry and public health sector in Latin America. In order to assess the epidemiological characteristics of vampire bat-transmitted rabies, the authors conducted phylogenetic and geographical analyses using sequence data of a large number of cattle rabies isolates collected from a wide geographical area in Brazil.
Partial nucleoprotein genes of rabies viruses isolated from 666 cattle and 18 vampire bats between 1987 and 2006 were sequenced and used for phylogenetic analysis. The genetic variants were plotted on topographical maps of Brazil.
In this study, 593 samples consisting of 24 genetic variants were analyzed. Regional localization of variants was observed, with the distribution of several variants found to be delimited by mountain ranges which served as geographic boundaries. The geographical distributions of vampire-bat and cattle isolates that were classified as the identical phylogenetic group were found to overlap with high certainty. Most of the samples analyzed in this study were isolated from adjacent areas linked by rivers.
This study revealed the existence of several dozen regional variants associated with vampire bats in Brazil, with the distribution patterns of these variants found to be affected by mountain ranges and rivers. These results suggest that epidemiological characteristics of vampire bat-related rabies appear to be associated with the topographical and geographical characteristics of areas where cattle are maintained, and the factors affecting vampire bat ecology.
Two human rabies cases caused by a bat-associated virus variant were identified in September 2001 in Costa Rica, after a 31-year absence of the disease in persons. Both patients lived in a rural area where cattle had a high risk for bat bites, but neither person had a definitive history of being bitten by a rabid animal. Characterization of the rabies viruses from the patients showed that the reservoir was the hematophagous Vampire Bat, Desmodus rotundus, and that a sick cat was the vector.
human rabies; bat; Costa Rica; dispatch
Vampire bat related rabies harms both livestock industry and public health sector in central Brazil. The geographical distributions of vampire bat-transmitted rabies virus variants are delimited by mountain chains. These findings were elucidated by analyzing a high conserved nucleoprotein gene. This study aims to elucidate the detailed epidemiological characters of vampire bat-transmitted rabies virus by phylogenetic methods based on 619-nt sequence including unconserved G-L intergenic region.
The vampire bat-transmitted rabies virus isolates divided into 8 phylogenetic lineages in the previous nucleoprotein gene analysis were divided into 10 phylogenetic lineages with significant bootstrap values. The distributions of most variants were reconfirmed to be delimited by mountain chains. Furthermore, variants in undulating areas have narrow distributions and are apparently separated by mountain ridges.
This study demonstrates that the 619-nt sequence including G-L intergenic region is more useful for a state-level phylogenetic analysis of rabies virus than the partial nucleoprotein gene, and simultaneously that the distribution of vampire bat-transmitted RABV variants tends to be separated not only by mountain chains but also by mountain ridges, thus suggesting that the diversity of vampire bat-transmitted RABV variants was delimited by geographical undulations.
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.
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.
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.
A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (c-ELISA) was developed as an alternative to the viral neutralization (VN) test for rapid and simple detection of antibodies to rabies virus. The competitor antibody in the c-ELISA was a biotinylated monoclonal antibody to the nucleoprotein of rabies virus. Initial comparisons showed a high correlation between titers obtained with the VN test and the c-ELISA (n = 88, r = 0.90), indicating that the c-ELISA could be used as a reliable substitute for the VN test. To evaluate the immune status of Japanese dogs to rabies virus, a total of 1,019 serum samples were collected from domestic dogs in 1994 and tested for antibodies with the c-ELISA. Overall, 84.8% of the dogs had antibodies against rabies virus, indicating that the vaccination strategy for preventing rabies outbreaks in domestic dogs is probably sufficient in Japan. Dogs receiving final vaccinations a year or more previously were 48.3 and 90.3% positive for antibodies when vaccinated once only or two or more times, respectively. This suggests that almost all dogs vaccinated twice or more remain seropositive for over 1 year in Japan.
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.
A panel of 37 rabies virus isolates were collected and studied, originating mainly from the northern and central regions of Namibia, between 1980 and 2003.
These virus isolates demonstrated a high degree of genetic similarity with respect to a 400 bp region of the nucleoprotein gene, with the virus isolates originating from kudu antelope (n = 10) sharing 97.2–100% similarity with jackal isolates, and 97–100% similarity with those isolated from domestic dogs. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that these viruses were all of the canid rabies biotype of southern Africa. The viruses from kudu were closely associated with jackal isolates (n = 6), bat-eared fox isolates (n = 2) and domestic dog isolates (n = 2) at the genetic level and identical at the amino acid level, irrespective of the year of isolation.
These data suggest that jackal and kudu may form part of the same epidemiological cycle of rabies in Namibian wildlife, and might demonstrate the close-relationship between rabies virus strains that circulate within Namibia and those that circulate between Namibia and its neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa.
Migration and transport of dogs may have caused recent epidemics of human rabies.
In recent years, the number of human rabies cases in the People’s Republic of China has increased during severe epidemics in 3 southern provinces (Guizhou, Guangxi, and Hunan). To analyze the causes of the high incidence of human rabies in this region, during 2005–2007, we collected 2,887 brain specimens from apparently healthy domestic dogs used for meat consumption in restaurants, 4 specimens from suspected rabid dogs, and 3 from humans with rabies in the 3 provinces. Partial nucleoprotein gene sequences were obtained from rabies-positive specimens. Phylogenetic relationships and distribution of viruses were determined. We infer that the spread of rabies viruses from high-incidence regions, particularly by long-distance movement or transprovincial translocation of dogs caused by human-related activities, may be 1 cause of the recent massive human rabies epidemics in southern China.
Molecular epidemiology; nucleoprotein; rabies; epidemic; China; viruses; research
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first human rabies case in Chile since 1972 occurred in March 1996 in a patient without history of known exposure. Antigenic and genetic characterization of the rabies isolate indicated that its reservoir was the insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis. This is the first human rabies case caused by an insectivorous bat rabies virus variant reported in Latin America.
rabies; Chile; bats; human; Latin America; Tadarida
An outbreak of bovine rabies occurred on a ranch when cattle were bitten by vampire bats. Microscopic lesions showed a nonsuppurative encephalitis with intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated viral antigen in the brain, and monoclonal antibodies identified a serotype 1 (vampire strain) of the rabies virus.
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.
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.
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.
characterization; genotype I; molecular epidemiology; rabies virus
A street rabies virus (RV) isolate, GXHXN, was obtained from brain tissue of rabid cattle in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China in 2009. GXHXN is the first isolate from cattle in China with its entire genome sequenced and is closely related to BJ2011E from horse in Beijing, WH11 from donkey in the Hubei Province, and isolates from dogs in the Guangxi and Fujian Provinces, with homologies of 97.6% to 99.6%. It is more distantly related to isolates from domestic cat, pig, Chinese ferret badger, and vaccine strains, with homologies of 83.1% to 88.0%.
A total of 226 isolates of rabies virus from different areas of Israel, including three human isolates and one sample from South Lebanon were identified between 1993 and 1998 by direct immunofluorescence using monoclonal antibodies to the viral nucleoprotein (N). An epidemiological survey based on nucleotide sequence analysis of 328 bp from the C terminus of the N coding region and the noncoding region between the nucleoprotein and the phosphoprotein (NS gene) was performed. Phylogenetic analysis of the isolates from Israel showed that they were related geographically, but not according to host species. Five variants, related groups distributed among four geographical regions, were identified. In each region, rabies virus was isolated from more than one animal species. A comparison of the sequence analysis of rabies virus samples from the rest of world revealed a 2-nucleotide change that distinguished the Middle East variants from the rest.
After a human rabies outbreak in southeastern Peru, we collected bats to estimate the prevalence of rabies in various species. Among 165 bats from 6 genera and 10 species, 10.3% were antibody positive; antibody prevalence was similar in vampire and nonvampire bats. Thus, nonvampire bats may also be a source for human rabies in Peru.
Rabies virus; rabies; viruses; outbreak investigation; reservoir; vampire bats; Peru; dispatch
A concentrate of wild rabies antibody was prepared from hyperimmune serums of three dogs refractory to wild rabies. The animals resisted repeated intramuscular injections of large doses of wild rabies virus in emulsions of whole brain, in emulsions of submaxillary salivary glands, and in emulsified mixtures of brain and submaxillary glands taken from naturally rabid dogs.
The antibody was conjugated with fluorochrome and then absorbed by a procedure that gave “cell-free” working solutions of fluorescent antibody. The procedure entailed parallel absorption steps with minced pathological canine submaxillary glands from (1) naturally rabid dogs (these glands contained specific, undegraded, natural antigens of live wild rabies virus plus nonspecific substances and antigens) and (2) nonrabid dogs from a rabies endemic region (these glands contained nonspecific substances and antigens).
Extracts from submaxillary glands of the three naturally rabid dogs and one nonrabid dog were stained with a cell-free solution of the fluorescent antibody. The glands of the rabid dogs contained fluorescent aggregates of intense green spherical and filamentous particles. When nonfluorescent canine hyperimmune serum was incubated with rabies-containing submaxillary extract, the rabies antigens were quenched. When nonfluorescent equine fixed virus antiserum was incubated with such extracts, the aggregates still retained bright fluorescence.
Rabies remains a public health problem in the Americas because of the great diversity of wild reservoirs that maintain the virus in nature. Here we report the antigenic characterization of 254 rabies viruses isolated from 148 nonreservoir and 106 reservoir hosts collected in 27 states of Mexico. Nine out of 11 antigenic variants previously reported in the United States were detected in Mexico by using the limited panel of monoclonal antibodies donated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some rabies virus variants were isolated from their natural reservoirs, which were also taxonomically identified. Terrestrial reservoirs included stray dogs with V1, Urocyon cineroargenteus (gray foxes) with V7, and two subspecies of Spilogale putorius (spotted skunks) with different viral variants (V8 and V10). Aerial hosts included Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana and Desmodus rotundus, which harbored V9 and V4 and harbored V11, respectively. All variants, with the exception of V9, were isolated from nonreservoir hosts, while V3, V4, and V5 were not isolated from their natural reservoirs but only from livestock. Rabies virus antigenic typing allowed us to determine rabies reservoirs and their distribution in Mexico, data which will probably improve prevention and control of the illness in humans and in the reservoir hosts.
In 1993 New York and Texas each reported a human rabies case traced to a rare variant of rabies virus found in an uncommon species of bat. This study examined the epidemiology of bat rabies in New York State. Demographic, species, and animal-contact information for bats submitted for rabies testing from 1988-92 was analysed. The prevalence of rabies in 6810 bats was 4.6%. Nearly 90% of the 308 rabid bats identified to species were the common big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), which comprised 62% of all submissions. Only 25 submissions were silver-haired bats (Lasionycterus noctivagans), the species associated with the two 1993 human cases of rabies, and only two of these bats were positive. Rabies was most prevalent in female bats, in bats submitted because of human [corrected] contact, and in animals tested during September and October. These results highlight the unusual circumstances surrounding the recent human rabies cases in the United States. A species of bat rarely encountered by humans, and contributing little to the total rabies cases in bats, has been implicated in the majority of the indigenously acquired human rabies cases in the United States. The factors contributing to the transmission of this rare rabies variant remain unclear.
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Thailand to assess rabies-related knowledge and practices among persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats. The objectives were to identify deficiencies in rabies awareness, describe the occurrence of bat exposures, and explore factors associated with transdermal bat exposures.
A survey was administered to a convenience sample of adult guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. The questionnaire elicited information on demographics, experience with bat exposures, and rabies knowledge. Participants were also asked to describe actions they would take in response to a bat bite as well as actions for a bite from a potentially rabid animal. Bivariate analysis was used to compare responses between groups and multivariable logistic regression was used to explore factors independently associated with being bitten or scratched by a bat.
Of 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a potential source of rabies. A history of a bat bite or scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) stated either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of rabies transmission (68% vs. 90%, p = 0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p = 0.003). Guano mining, bat hunting, and being in a bat cave or roost area more than 5 times a year were associated with history of a bat bite or scratch.
These findings indicate the need for educational outreach to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure appropriate health-seeking behaviors for bat-inflicted wounds, particularly among at-risk groups in Thailand.
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. We surveyed persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats in Thailand to assess rabies‐related knowledge and practices. Targeted groups included guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. Of the 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a source of rabies. History of a bat bite/scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) expressed either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of transmission (68% vs. 90%, p=0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p=0.003). These findings indicate a need for educational outreach in Thailand to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure health‐seeking behaviors for bat‐inflicted wounds, particularly among at‐risk groups.
Six hundred and twenty-eight insectivorous bats originating from seven provinces were submitted to this Institute for rabies diagnosis between August 1, 1963 and December 31, 1967. Brain tissue was examined by the fluorescent antibody technique and the mouse infectivity test was carried out with brain, salivary gland, interscapular adipose tissue and kidney samples. Rabies virus was detected in 44 bats, 29 of which were from Ontario, 12 from British Columbia and three from Manitoba. Most of the positive cases were diagnosed in summer months. Seven species were represented among the specimens found to be rabid; there were 32 big brown bats, three hoary bats, three silver-haired bats, two little brown bats, one eastern pipistrelle, one Keen myotis and one red bat. Another bat which was not identified also proved to be infected with rabies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rabies and associated risk factors in dogs, cats and cattle (n = 3,454) in southern Thailand during 1994–2008 were evaluated by using a mixed-effect logistic regression model. Overall prevalence was 48%. In dogs, odds of being rabid were 1.7 times higher in unvaccinated dogs than in vaccinated dogs and two times higher in dogs with bite history than in dogs with no known bite history. Similarly, aggressive dogs were more likely to be rabid than non-aggressive dogs. In cattle, aggression, pharyngeal paralysis, hyperactivity, and depression were clinical signs associated with being rabid. Annual fluctuations of the species-specific prevalence of rabies is suggestive of a positive correlation between canine and either feline (r = 0.60, P = 0.05) or bovine rabies (r = 0.78, P = 0.004). Insufficient vaccination coverage led to maintenance of rabies, which could be easily controlled by increased vaccine coverage and public education.