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1.  The epidemiology of bat rabies in New York State, 1988-92. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1994;113(3):501-511.
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.
PMCID: PMC2271321  PMID: 7995360
2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3754046  PMID: 23741002
3.  High Diversity of Rabies Viruses Associated with Insectivorous Bats in Argentina: Presence of Several Independent Enzootics 
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3348165  PMID: 22590657
4.  Rabies-Related Knowledge and Practices Among Persons At Risk of Bat Exposures in Thailand 
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3125144  PMID: 21738801
5.  Emerging Pattern of Rabies Deaths and Increased Viral Infectivity 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(2):151-154.
Most human rabies deaths in the United States can be attributed to unrecognized exposures to rabies viruses associated with bats, particularly those associated with two infrequently encountered bat species (Lasionycteris noctivagans and Pipistrellus subflavus). These human rabies cases tend to cluster in the southeastern and northwestern United States. In these regions, most rabies deaths associated with bats in nonhuman terrestrial mammals are also associated with virus variants specific to these two bat species rather than more common bat species; outside of these regions, more common bat rabies viruses contribute to most transmissions. The preponderance of rabies deaths connected with the two uncommon L. noctivagans and P. subflavus bat rabies viruses is best explained by their evolution of increased viral infectivity.
PMCID: PMC2901935  PMID: 12603983
rabies; cryptic deaths; terrestrial mammals; increased infectivity; Silver-haired Bat; Eastern Pipistrelle; research
6.  Bat Rabies in Guatemala 
Rabies in bats is considered enzootic throughout the New World, but few comparative data are available for most countries in the region. As part of a larger pathogen detection program, enhanced bat rabies surveillance was conducted in Guatemala, between 2009 and 2011. A total of 672 bats of 31 species were sampled and tested for rabies. The prevalence of rabies virus (RABV) detection among all collected bats was low (0.3%). Viral antigens were detected and infectious virus was isolated from the brains of two common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus). RABV was also isolated from oral swabs, lungs and kidneys of both bats, whereas viral RNA was detected in all of the tissues examined by hemi-nested RT-PCR except for the liver of one bat. Sequencing of the nucleoprotein gene showed that both viruses were 100% identical, whereas sequencing of the glycoprotein gene revealed one non-synonymous substitution (302T,S). The two vampire bat RABV isolates in this study were phylogenetically related to viruses associated with vampire bats in the eastern states of Mexico and El Salvador. Additionally, 7% of sera collected from 398 bats demonstrated RABV neutralizing antibody. The proportion of seropositive bats varied significantly across trophic guilds, suggestive of complex intraspecific compartmentalization of RABV perpetuation.
Author Summary
In this study we provide results of the first active and extensive surveillance effort for rabies virus (RABV) circulation among bats in Guatemala. The survey included multiple geographic areas and multiple species of bats, to assess the broader public and veterinary health risks associated with rabies in bats in Guatemala. RABV was isolated from vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) collected in two different locations in Guatemala. Sequencing of the isolates revealed a closer relationship to Mexican and Central American vampire bat isolates than to South American isolates. The detection of RABV neutralizing antibodies in 11 species, including insectivorous, frugivorous, and sanguivorous bats, demonstrates viral circulation in both hematophagous and non-hematophagous bat species in Guatemala. The presence of bat RABV in rural communities requires new strategies for public health education regarding contact with bats, improved laboratory-based surveillance of animals associated with human exposures, and novel techniques for modern rabies prevention and control. Additionally, healthcare practitioners should emphasize the collection of a detailed medical history, including questions regarding bat exposure, for patients presenting with clinical syndromes compatible with rabies or any clinically diagnosed progressive encephalitis.
PMCID: PMC4117473  PMID: 25080103
7.  Changes in Knowledge of Bat Rabies and Human Exposure among United States Cavers 
The purpose of the study was to evaluate changes in the knowledge of bat rabies and human exposure among United States cavers during the last decade. A survey was distributed among cavers who attended the National Speleological Society convention in 2000 and those who attended in 2010. In 2000 and 2010, 392 and 108 cavers, respectively, responded to the questionnaire. Eighty-five per cent of respondents in 2000 indicated a bat bite as a risk for rabies compared with all respondents in 2010 (P < 0.0001 controlling for age). The proportion of respondents indicating that they were advised to receive rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreEP) because of caving increased (17% and 29%; P = 0.03 controlling for age). Among these, PreEP was received by 56% and 45%. Although recognition of the risk of rabies exposure from bats is important, the proportion of cavers acting on current recommendations regarding PreEP does not appear to have improved in the past decade.
PMCID: PMC3919228  PMID: 24297813
8.  Knowledge of Bat Rabies and Human Exposure Among United States Cavers 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(5):532-534.
We surveyed cavers who attended the National Speleological Society convention in June 2000. Fifteen percent of respondents did not consider a bat bite a risk for acquiring rabies; only 20% had received preexposure prophylaxis against the disease. An under-appreciation of the risk for rabies from bat bites may explain the preponderance of human rabies viruses caused by variant strains associated with bats in the United States.
PMCID: PMC2732483  PMID: 11996694
rabies; lyssa virus; cavers; spelunkers; vaccination; bats; zoonoses
9.  Monoclonal antibodies to Mokola virus for identification of rabies and rabies-related viruses. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1988;26(12):2489-2494.
Rabies and rabies-related virus strains were studied by using a panel of monoclonal antibodies directed against either nucleocapsid proteins or cell surface antigens of Mokola virus (Mok-3). Each strain was used in parallel to infect cultured cells and mice. Then, the patterns of reactivity of the different monoclonal antibodies were determined by the immunofluorescent-antibody staining procedure. On cells, the monoclonal antibodies differentiated fixed rabies virus strains (serotype 1) from rabies-related virus strains. The seven fixed strains (CVS, PV4, PM, Flury LEP and HEP, ERA, and SAD) reacted identically. The previous serotype groupings (serotype 2, Lagos-bat virus; serotype 3, Mokola virus; serotype 4, Duvenhage virus) established with anti-rabies monoclonal antibodies were confirmed, except for that of Lagos-bat Kindia, which appeared to be related to the African subtype of the Duvenhage serotype (Duv-2). Within the Mokola (Mok-1, -2, -3, and -5 and Umhlanga) and the Lagos-bat (Lag-1 and -2, Zimbabwe, Pinetown, and Dakar) serotypes, each strain appeared to be distinct. The African subtype of the Duvenhage serotype reacted differently from the European subtype. Within the Duvenhage serotype, subtypes Duv-4, -5, and -6 and Denmark reacted identically, while subtypes Duv-1, -2, and -3 and German Democratic Republic appeared to be distinct. The monoclonal antibodies specific for the cell surface antigens were also used in neutralization tests with all the strains. Two of them neutralized the infectivity of Mokola virus.
PMCID: PMC266931  PMID: 3068246
10.  Demonstration of antigenic variation among rabies virus isolates by using monoclonal antibodies to nucleocapsid proteins. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1986;24(4):573-580.
Rabies virus isolates from terrestrial animals in six areas of the United States were examined with a panel of monoclonal antibodies to nucleocapsid proteins. Characteristic differences in immunofluorescence reactions permitted the formation of four antigenically distinct reaction groups from the 231 isolates tested. The geographic distribution of these groups corresponded well with separate rabies enzootic areas recognized by surveillance of sylvatic rabies in the United States. Distinctive reaction patterns were also identified for viral proteins from four infected bat species, and identical patterns were found in eight isolated cases of rabies in terrestrial animals. These findings suggest that monoclonal antibodies can be used to study the prevalence, distribution, and transmission of rabies among wildlife species.
PMCID: PMC268974  PMID: 2429983
11.  Estimating the risk of rabies transmission to humans in the U.S.: a delphi analysis 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:278.
In the United States, the risk of rabies transmission to humans in most situations of possible exposure is unknown. Controlled studies on rabies are clearly not possible. Thus, the limited data on risk has led to the frequent administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), often in inappropriate circumstances.
We used the Delphi method to obtain an expert group consensus estimate of the risk of rabies transmission to humans in seven scenarios of potential rabies exposure. We also surveyed and discussed the merits of recommending rabies PEP for each scenario.
The median risk of rabies transmission without rabies PEP for a bite exposure by a skunk, bat, cat, and dog was estimated to be 0.05, 0.001, 0.001, and 0.00001, respectively. Rabies PEP was unanimously recommended in these scenarios. However, rabies PEP was overwhelmingly not recommended for non-bite exposures (e.g. dog licking hand but unavailable for subsequent testing), estimated to have less than 1 in 1,000,000 (0.000001) risk of transmission.
Our results suggest that there are many common situations in which the risk of rabies transmission is so low that rabies PEP should not be recommended. These risk estimates also provide a key parameter for cost-effective models of human rabies prevention and can be used to educate health professionals about situation-specific administration of rabies PEP.
PMCID: PMC2887820  PMID: 20500896
12.  Rabies Diagnosis for Developing Countries 
Canine rabies is a neglected disease causing 55,000 human deaths worldwide per year, and 99% of all cases are transmitted by dog bites. In N'Djaména, the capital of Chad, rabies is endemic with an incidence of 1.71/1,000 dogs (95% C.I. 1.45–1.98). The gold standard of rabies diagnosis is the direct immunofluorescent antibody (DFA) test, requiring a fluorescent microscope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, United States of America) developed a histochemical test using low-cost light microscopy, the direct rapid immunohistochemical test (dRIT).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We evaluated the dRIT in the Chadian National Veterinary Laboratory in N'Djaména by testing 35 fresh samples parallel with both the DFA and dRIT. Additional retests (n = 68 in Chad, n = 74 at CDC) by DFA and dRIT of stored samples enhanced the power of the evaluation. All samples were from dogs, cats, and in one case from a bat. The dRIT performed very well compared to DFA. We found a 100% agreement of the dRIT and DFA in fresh samples (n = 35). Results of retesting at CDC and in Chad depended on the condition of samples. When the sample was in good condition (fresh brain tissue), we found simple Cohen's kappa coefficient related to the DFA diagnostic results in fresh tissue of 0.87 (95% C.I. 0.63–1) up to 1. For poor quality samples, the kappa values were between 0.13 (95% C.I. −0.15–0.40) and 0.48 (95% C.I. 0.14–0.82). For samples stored in glycerol, dRIT results were more likely to agree with DFA testing in fresh samples than the DFA retesting.
The dRIT is as reliable a diagnostic method as the gold standard (DFA) for fresh samples. It has an advantage of requiring only light microscopy, which is 10 times less expensive than a fluorescence microscope. Reduced cost suggests high potential for making rabies diagnosis available in other cities and rural areas of Africa for large populations for which a capacity for diagnosis will contribute to rabies control.
Author Summary
A new diagnostic test for rabies in animals was evaluated in N'Djaména, capital of Chad. The test is based on a direct immuno-histochemical detection of rabies virus in brain tissue (dRIT) visible by normal light microscopy. Rabies detection by dRIT light microscopy is 10 times less expensive than fluorescence microscopy required for the current gold standard of rabies diagnosis. The test showed ideal results in fresh samples with 100% agreement with the gold standard and confirms the results of a first study in Tanzania. Thus, it has a significant potential for diagnosing rabies in low-income countries, and under field conditions where rabies diagnosis is unavailable for the moment. This new test opens up a great potential to train technical staff and to establish rabies diagnosis without delay in low-income countries with urban rabies.
PMCID: PMC2268742  PMID: 18365035
13.  Potential and Actual Terrestrial Rabies Exposures in People and Domestic Animals, Upstate South Carolina, 1994–2004: A Surveillance Study 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:65.
Although there has been a reduction of rabies in pets and domestic animals during recent decades in the United States, rabies remains enzootic among bats and several species of terrestrial wildlife. Spillover transmission of wildlife rabies to domestic animals therefore remains a public health threat
Retrospective analysis of surveillance data of reported animal incidents (bites, scratches, mucous membrane contacts) from South Carolina, 1995 to 2003, was performed to assess risk factors of potential rabies exposures among human and animal victims.
Dogs and cats contributed the majority (66.7% and 26.4%, respectively) of all reported incidents, with stray dogs and cats contributing 9.0% and 15.1 respectively. Current rabies vaccination status of dogs and cats (40.2% and 13.8%, respectively) were below World Health Organization recommended levels. Owned cats were half as likely to be vaccinated for rabies as dogs (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.48, 0.58). Animal victims were primarily exposed to wildlife (83.0%), of which 27.5% were rabid. Almost 90% of confirmed rabies exposures were due to wildlife. Skunks had the highest prevalence of rabies among species of exposure animals (63.2%). Among rabid domestic animals, stray cats were the most commonly reported (47.4%).
While the majority of reported potential rabies exposures are associated with dog and cat incidents, most rabies exposures derive from rabid wildlife. Stray cats were most frequently rabid among domestic animals. Our results underscore the need for improvement of wildlife rabies control and the reduction of interactions of domestic animals, including cats, with wildlife.
PMCID: PMC2651164  PMID: 19236696
14.  The ascension of wildlife rabies: a cause for public health concern or intervention? 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  1995;1(4):107-114.
The epidemiology of rabies in the United States has changed substantially during the last half century, as the source of the disease has changed from domesticated animals to wildlife, principally raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Moreover, the changes observed among affected wildlife populations have not occurred without human influence. Rather, human attraction to the recreational and economic resources provided by wildlife has contributed to the reemergence of rabies as a major zoonosis. Although human deaths caused by rabies have declined recently to an average of one or two per year, the estimated costs associated with the decrease in deaths amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In future efforts to control rabies harbored by free-ranging animal reservoirs, public health professionals will have to apply imaginative, safe, and cost-effective solutions to this age-old malady in addition to using traditional measures.
PMCID: PMC2626887  PMID: 8903179
15.  Failure To Open the Blood-Brain Barrier and Deliver Immune Effectors to Central Nervous System Tissues Leads to the Lethal Outcome of Silver-Haired Bat Rabies Virus Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(3):1110-1118.
Rabies is a lethal disease caused by neurotropic viruses that are endemic in nature. When exposure to a potentially rabid animal is recognized, prompt administration of virus-neutralizing antibodies, together with active immunization, can prevent development of the disease. However, once the nonspecific clinical symptoms of rabies appear conventional postexposure treatment is unsuccessful. Over the last decade, rabies viruses associated with the silver-haired bat (SHBRV) have emerged as the leading cause of human deaths from rabies in the United States and Canada as a consequence of the fact that exposure to these viruses is often unnoticed. The need to treat SHBRV infection following the development of clinical rabies has lead us to investigate why the immune response to SHBRV fails to protect at a certain stage of infection. We have established that measurements of innate and adaptive immunity are indistinguishable between mice infected with the highly lethal SHBRV and mice infected with an attenuated laboratory rabies virus strain. While a fully functional immune response to SHBRV develops in the periphery of infected animals, the invasion of central nervous system (CNS) tissues by immune cells is reduced and, consequently, the virus is not cleared. Our data indicate that the specific deficit in the SHBRV-infected animal is an inability to enhance blood-brain barrier permeability in the cerebellum and deliver immune effectors to the CNS tissues. Conceivably, at the stage of infection where immune access to the infected CNS tissues is limited, either the provision or the development of antiviral immunity will be ineffective.
PMCID: PMC1797506  PMID: 17108029
16.  Current issues in rabies prevention in the United States health dilemmas. Public coffers, private interests. 
Public Health Reports  1996;111(5):400-407.
OVER THE LAST 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal rabies cases reported annually to the CDC now occur in wildlife, whereas before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats infected with several viral variants. Annual human deaths have fallen from more than a hundred at the turn of the century to one to two per year despite major outbreaks of animal rabies in several geographic areas. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful; most human fatalities now occur in people who fail to seek medical treatment, usually because they do not recognize a risk in the animal contact leading to the infection. Although these human rabies deaths are rare, the estimated public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention, and control have risen, exceeding millions of dollars each year. Cost considerations must be weighed along with other factors in addressing issues such as the appropriate handling of nontraditional and exotic pets, future guidelines for rabies prophylaxis, and novel methods of disease prevention.
PMCID: PMC1381782  PMID: 8837628
17.  Variability in Seroprevalence of Rabies Virus Neutralizing Antibodies and Associated Factors in a Colorado Population of Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86261.
In 2001–2005 we sampled permanently marked big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) at summer roosts in buildings at Fort Collins, Colorado, for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (RVNA). Seroprevalence was higher in adult females (17.9%, n = 2,332) than males (9.4%, n = 128; P = 0.007) or volant juveniles (10.2%, n = 738; P<0.0001). Seroprevalence was lowest in a drought year with local insecticide use and highest in the year with normal conditions, suggesting that environmental stress may suppress RVNA production in big brown bats. Seroprevalence also increased with age of bat, and varied from 6.2 to 26.7% among adult females at five roosts sampled each year for five years. Seroprevalence of adult females at 17 other roosts sampled for 1 to 4 years ranged from 0.0 to 47.1%. Using logistic regression, the only ranking model in our candidate set of explanatory variables for serological status at first sampling included year, day of season, and a year by day of season interaction that varied with relative drought conditions. The presence or absence of antibodies in individual bats showed temporal variability. Year alone provided the best model to explain the likelihood of adult female bats showing a transition to seronegative from a previously seropositive state. Day of the season was the only competitive model to explain the likelihood of a transition from seronegative to seropositive, which increased as the season progressed. We found no rabies viral RNA in oropharyngeal secretions of 261 seropositive bats or in organs of 13 euthanized seropositive bats. Survival of seropositive and seronegative bats did not differ. The presence of RVNA in serum of bats should not be interpreted as evidence for ongoing rabies infection.
PMCID: PMC3899234  PMID: 24465996
18.  Epidemiology of vampire bat-transmitted rabies virus in Goiás, central Brazil: re-evaluation based on G-L intergenic region 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:288.
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.
PMCID: PMC2993726  PMID: 21059233
19.  Naturally Acquired Rabies Virus Infections in Wild-Caught Bats 
The study of a zoonotic disease requires an understanding of the disease incidence in animal reservoirs. Rabies incidence in bats submitted to diagnostic laboratories does not accurately reflect the true incidence in wild bat populations as a bias exists for testing bats that have been in contact with humans or pets. This article details the rabies incidence in two species of bats collected from natural settings without such bias. In this study, brain smears from 0.6% and 2.5% of wild-caught and apparently healthy Tadarida brasiliensis and Eptesicus fuscus, respectively, were positive for rabies virus (RV) antigen. Conversely, 92% of the grounded T. brasiliensis were positive for RV. Serology performed on captive colony and sick bats reveal an immune response to rabies. This work illustrates the complex interplay between immunity, disease state, and the conundrum of RV maintenance in bats.
PMCID: PMC3249890  PMID: 21923271
Antibodies; Bats; Rabies; Viral isolation
20.  Antigenic and molecular characterization of bat rabies virus in Europe. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1992;30(9):2419-2426.
The predominant role of Eptesicus serotinus in the epizootic of bat rabies in Europe was further outlined by the first isolation of the rabies virus from this species in France. The distribution of the virus was studied in naturally infected E. serotinus bats at the time of death and suggested that the papillae of the tongue and the respiratory mucosa may play a role in virus production and excretion. The analysis of 501 French rabies virus isolates from various animal species by antinucleocapsid monoclonal antibodies indicated that transmission of the disease from bats to terrestrial animals is unlikely. The antigenic profile of two isolates from French bats corresponded to that of European bat lyssavirus type 1 (EBL1). Comparisons of 12 different isolates from bats with antinucleocapsid and antiglycoprotein monoclonal antibodies and by direct sequencing of the polymerase chain reaction amplification product of the N gene indicated that EBL1, EBL2, Duvenhage virus (serotype 4 of lyssavirus), and the European fox rabies virus (serotype 1) are phylogenetically distant. They formed four tight genetic clusters named genotypes. EBL1 was shown to be antigenically and genetically more closely related to Duvenhage virus than to EBL2. We propose that EBL1 and EBL2 constitute two distinct genotypes which further serologic characterization will probably classify as new serotypes. We also report a simple method for the rapid characterization of EBL based on the digestion of the polymerase chain reaction product of the N gene by three restriction endonucleases.
PMCID: PMC265516  PMID: 1401009
21.  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
22.  Low-pH conformational changes of rabies virus glycoprotein and their role in membrane fusion. 
Journal of Virology  1993;67(3):1365-1372.
Fusion of rabies virus with membranes occurs at acidic pH and is mediated by the viral spike glycoprotein (G). In this paper, we provide the basis for a description of structural transitions associated with exposure to low pH and of their role in membrane fusion. First, we have extended previous studies of fusion kinetics and we have shown that low-pH inhibition of fusion is detectable at 0.5 pH units higher than fusion. Second, low-pH-induced conformational changes were analyzed by using electron microscopy and monoclonal antibody binding assays. The existence of a pH-dependent equilibrium between the native and a low-pH inactive conformation was demonstrated. Third, besides these two conformations, we, using the fluorescent probe ANS (8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid), provide evidence for the existence of a transient third state which appears to be more hydrophobic than the native state. Our results suggest that this transient state is responsible for viral aggregation at low pH and could play a role in the first steps of the fusion mechanism.
PMCID: PMC237506  PMID: 8437221
23.  Rabies: ocular pathology. 
Ocular pathology in the first European case of human bat-borne rabies is described. The patient was a 30-year-old bat scientist who seven weeks after bat bite developed neurological symptoms and died 23 days later. Rabies virus antigens were detected in brain smears. After extensive virological studies the virus turned out to be a rabies-related virus, closely resembling the Duvenhage virus isolated from bats in South Africa in 1980. By light microscopy focal chronic inflammatory infiltration of the ciliary body and of the choroid was found. PAS-positive exudate was seen in the subretinal and in the outer plexiform layers of the retina, and retinal veins showed endothelial damage and perivascular inflammation. Many of the retinal ganglion cells were destroyed. The presence of rabies-related viral antigen in the retinal ganglion cells was shown by positive cytoplasmic immunofluorescence, though electron microscopy failed to identify definite viral structures in the retina. By immunohistochemistry glial fibrillary acidic protein was observed in the Müller's cells, which are normally negative for this antigen but express it as a reactive change when the retina is damaged. Synaptophysin, a constituent of presynaptic vesicles of normal retinal neurons, was not detected in the retina.
PMCID: PMC1041645  PMID: 2920157
24.  Enhanced Passive Bat Rabies Surveillance in Indigenous Bat Species from Germany - A Retrospective Study 
In Germany, rabies in bats is a notifiable zoonotic disease, which is caused by European bat lyssaviruses type 1 and 2 (EBLV-1 and 2), and the recently discovered new lyssavirus species Bokeloh bat lyssavirus (BBLV). As the understanding of bat rabies in insectivorous bat species is limited, in addition to routine bat rabies diagnosis, an enhanced passive surveillance study, i.e. the retrospective investigation of dead bats that had not been tested for rabies, was initiated in 1998 to study the distribution, abundance and epidemiology of lyssavirus infections in bats from Germany. A total number of 5478 individuals representing 21 bat species within two families were included in this study. The Noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) and the Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) represented the most specimens submitted. Of all investigated bats, 1.17% tested positive for lyssaviruses using the fluorescent antibody test (FAT). The vast majority of positive cases was identified as EBLV-1, predominately associated with the Serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus). However, rabies cases in other species, i.e. Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), P. pipistrellus and Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) were also characterized as EBLV-1. In contrast, EBLV-2 was isolated from three Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentonii). These three cases contribute significantly to the understanding of EBLV-2 infections in Germany as only one case had been reported prior to this study. This enhanced passive surveillance indicated that besides known reservoir species, further bat species are affected by lyssavirus infections. Given the increasing diversity of lyssaviruses and bats as reservoir host species worldwide, lyssavirus positive specimens, i.e. both bat and virus need to be confirmed by molecular techniques.
Author Summary
According to the World Health Organization rabies is considered both a neglected zoonotic and a tropical disease. The causative agents are lyssaviruses which have their primary reservoir in bats. Although bat rabies is notifiable in Germany, the number of submitted bats during routine surveillance is rarely representative of the natural bat population. Therefore, the aim of this study was to include dead bats from various sources for enhanced bat rabies surveillance. The results show that a considerable number of additional bat rabies cases can be detected, thus improving the knowledge on the frequency, geographical distribution and reservoir-association of bat lyssavirus infections in Germany. The overall proportion of positives was lower than during routine surveillance in Germany. While the majority of cases were found in the Serotine bat and characterized as European bat lyssavirus type 1 (EBLV-1), three of the four EBLV-2 infections detected in Germany were found in Myotis daubentonii during this study.
PMCID: PMC4006713  PMID: 24784117
25.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3285087  PMID: 22243739

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