Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.
Previous studies indicated that a novel influenza A virus (H17N10) was circulating in fruit bats from Guatemala (Central America). Herein, we investigated whether similar viruses are present in bat species from South America. Analysis of rectal swabs from bats sampled in the Amazon rainforest region of Peru identified another new influenza A virus from bats that is phylogenetically distinct from the one identified in Guatemala. The genes that encode the surface proteins of the new virus from the flat-faced fruit bat were designated as new subtype H18N11. Serologic testing of blood samples from several species of Peruvian bats indicated a high prevalence of antibodies to the surface proteins. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that bat populations from Central and South America maintain as much influenza virus genetic diversity in some gene segments as all other mammalian and avian species combined. The crystal structures of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins indicate that sialic acid is not a receptor for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a novel mechanism of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. In summary, our findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important reservoir for influenza viruses.
Despite extensive culling of common vampire bats in Latin America, lethal human rabies outbreaks transmitted by this species are increasingly recognized, and livestock rabies occurs with striking frequency. To identify the individual and population-level factors driving rabies virus (RV) transmission in vampire bats, we conducted a longitudinal capture–recapture study in 20 vampire bat colonies spanning four regions of Peru. Serology demonstrated the circulation of RV in vampire bats from all regions in all years. Seroprevalence ranged from 3 to 28 per cent and was highest in juvenile and sub-adult bats. RV exposure was independent of bat colony size, consistent with an absence of population density thresholds for viral invasion and extinction. Culling campaigns implemented during our study failed to reduce seroprevalence and were perhaps counterproductive for disease control owing to the targeted removal of adults, but potentially greater importance of juvenile and sub-adult bats for transmission. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms of RV maintenance in vampire bats and highlight the need for ecologically informed approaches to rabies prevention in Latin America.
culling; disease thresholds; longitudinal; Lyssavirus; chiroptera; Desmodus
Bartonella infections were investigated in bats in the Amazon part of Peru. A total of 112 bats belonging to 19 species were surveyed. Bartonella bacteria were cultured from 24.1% of the bats (27/112). Infection rates ranged from 0% to 100% per bat species. Phylogenetic analyses of gltA of the Bartonella isolates revealed 21 genetic variants clustering into 13 divergent phylogroups. Some Bartonella strains were shared by bats of multiple species, and bats of some species were infected with multiple Bartonella strains, showing no evident specific Bartonella sp.–bat relationships. Rarely found in other bat species, the Bartonella strains of phylogroups I and III discovered from the common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) were more specific to the host bat species, suggesting some level of host specificity.
Canine rabies is one of the most important and feared zoonotic diseases in the world. In some regions rabies elimination is being successfully coordinated, whereas in others rabies is endemic and continues to spread to uninfected areas. As epidemics emerge, both accepted and contentious control methods are used, as questions remain over the most effective strategy to eliminate rabies. The Indonesian island of Bali was rabies-free until 2008 when an epidemic in domestic dogs began, resulting in the deaths of over 100 people. Here we analyze data from the epidemic and compare the effectiveness of control methods at eliminating rabies.
Using data from Bali, we estimated the basic reproductive number, R0, of rabies in dogs, to be ∼1·2, almost identical to that obtained in ten–fold less dense dog populations and suggesting rabies will not be effectively controlled by reducing dog density. We then developed a model to compare options for mass dog vaccination. Comprehensive high coverage was the single most important factor for achieving elimination, with omission of even small areas (<0.5% of the dog population) jeopardizing success. Parameterizing the model with data from the 2010 and 2011 vaccination campaigns, we show that a comprehensive high coverage campaign in 2012 would likely result in elimination, saving ∼550 human lives and ∼$15 million in prophylaxis costs over the next ten years.
The elimination of rabies from Bali will not be achieved through achievable reductions in dog density. To ensure elimination, concerted high coverage, repeated, mass dog vaccination campaigns are necessary and the cooperation of all regions of the island is critical. Momentum is building towards development of a strategy for the global elimination of canine rabies, and this study offers valuable new insights about the dynamics and control of this disease, with immediate practical relevance.
Canine rabies continues to cause tens of thousands of horrific deaths worldwide, primarily in Asia and Africa. Momentum is building towards development of a global elimination strategy for canine rabies, but questions remain over how best to eliminate rabies epidemics. This paper uses data generated from the recent high-profile rabies outbreak in Bali, Indonesia to evaluate different control options. We find that, despite high dog densities, the spread of rabies on the island was remarkably similar to canine rabies spread elsewhere, suggesting that the practice of dog culling is an ineffective control strategy. We then simulate rabies transmission and spread across the island and compare the effectiveness of mass dog vaccination strategies in terms of how many lives are saved and how long it will take for elimination to be achieved. We find that the effectiveness of campaigns is not improved by being more reactive or synchronized but depends almost entirely upon reaching sufficient coverage (70%) across the population in successive campaigns. Even small ‘gaps’ in vaccination coverage can significantly impede the prospects of elimination. The outputs of this study provide the kind of evidence needed by rabies program coordinators to help design effective national control programmes, and to build the evidence-base to drive forward the development and implementation of effective global rabies policy.
Rabies remains a serious problem in China with three epidemics since 1949 and the country in the midst of the third epidemic. Significantly, the control of each outbreak has been followed by a rapid reemergence of the disease. In 2005, the government implemented a rabies national surveillance program that included the collection and screening of almost 8,000 samples. In this work, we analyzed a Chinese dataset comprising 320 glycoprotein sequences covering 23 provinces and eight species, spanning the second and third epidemics. Specifically, we investigated whether the three epidemics are associated with a single reemerging lineage or a different lineage was responsible for each epidemic. Consistent with previous results, phylogenetic analysis identified six lineages, China I to VI. Analysis of the geographical composition of these lineages revealed they are consistent with human case data and reflect the gradual emergence of China I in the third epidemic. Initially, China I was restricted to south China and China II was dominant. However, as the epidemic began to spread into new areas, China I began to emerge, whereas China II remained confined to south China. By the latter part of the surveillance period, almost all isolates were China I and contributions from the remaining lineages were minimal. The prevalence of China II in the early stages of the third epidemic and its established presence in wildlife suggests that it too replaced a previously dominant lineage during the second epidemic. This lineage replacement may be a consequence of control programs that were dominated by dog culling efforts as the primary control method in the first two epidemics. This had the effect of reducing dominant strains to levels comparable with other localized background stains. Our results indicate the importance of effective control strategies for long term control of the disease.
Since 1949, there have been three rabies epidemics in China. The country is currently in the midst of a third epidemic. After the first two epidemics were brought under control, there was a rapid reemergence of the disease. In 2005, the government implemented a national surveillance program and as part of this work, samples were collected from humans and animals and screened for rabies. Positive samples were sequenced and combined with other publicly available sequences to form a dataset that spanned almost all epidemic regions in China. A phylogenetic tree was constructed the clustering of isolates according to geographic origin and lineage was investigated. We found that most isolates were grouped into two lineages China I and China II. However, the proportion of isolates in these lineages changed over time until almost all new isolates were placed in China I, indicating it has emerged as the dominant lineage. Furthermore, the significantly higher number of China II isolates compared to remaining lineages together with its established presence in wildlife suggests that it was dominant in the second epidemic, suggesting that lineage replacement also occurred during the previous epidemic.
In French Guiana, from 1984 to 2011, 14 animal rabies cases and 1 human rabies case (2008) were diagnosed. In January 2011, vampire-bat attacks occurred in 2 isolated villages. In mid-January, a medical team from the Cayenne Centre for Anti-Rabies Treatment visited the sites to manage individuals potentially exposed to rabies and, in April, an anti-rabies vaccination campaign for dogs was conducted. Twenty individuals were bitten by bats in 1 month, most frequently on the feet. The median time to start management was 15 days. The complete Zagreb vaccination protocol (2 doses on day 0 and 1 dose on days 7 and 21) was administered to 16 patients, 12 also received specific immunoglobulins. The antibody titration was obtained for 12 patients (different from those who received immunoglobulins). The antibody titers were ≥0.5 EU/mL for all of them. The serology has not been implemented for the 12 patients who received immunoglobulins. Accidental destruction of a vampire-bat colony could be responsible for the attacks. The isolation and absence of sensitization of the populations were the main explanations for the management difficulties encountered. Sensitization programs should be conducted regularly.
Rabies is a disease almost invariably fatal in humans once the first clinical signs appear. In French Guiana bats represent the virus reservoir, especially vampire bats. From 1984 to 2011, 14 animal rabies cases and 1 human rabies case (2008) were diagnosed. In case of bat bite, anti-rabies immunoglobulins (RIG) and rabies vaccine must be rapidly administrated. The specific rabies management is exclusively performed by Centre for Anti-Rabies Treatment (CART), located at the Institut Pasteur in Cayenne, the prefecture of French Guiana, and 6 Anti-Rabies Treatment Outposts distributed along the coastal edge and along the two main rivers. Only a CART physician can administer RIG. In January 2011, vampire-bat attacks occurred in 2 isolated villages. In mid-January, a medical team from the CART visited the sites to manage individuals potentially exposed to rabies and, in April, an anti-rabies vaccination campaign for dogs was conducted. The most relevant contribution of this study is to underline difficulties to provide rabies post-exposure prophylaxis to remote populations exposed to bat rabies in the Amazonian region and to show the lack of awareness of these rural populations concerning rabies and the risk associated to vampire bats.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease that has been prevalent in humans and animals for centuries in Ethiopia and it is often dealt with using traditional practices. There is lack of accurate quantitative information on rabies both in humans and animals in Ethiopia and little is known about the awareness of the people about the disease. In this study, we estimated the incidence of rabies in humans and domestic animals, and assessed the people's awareness about the disease in North Gondar zone, Ethiopia.
The incidence of rabies in humans and domestic animals was prospectively followed up for one year period based on clinical observation. A questionnaire was also administered to 120 randomly selected dog owners and 5 traditional healers to assess the knowledge and practices about the disease. We found an annual estimated rabies incidence of 2.33 cases per 100,000 in humans, 412.83 cases per 100,000 in dogs, 19.89 cases per 100,000 in cattle, 67.68 cases per 100,000 in equines, and 14.45 cases per 100,000 in goats. Dog bite was the source of infection for all fatal rabies cases. Ninety eight percent of the questionnaire respondents were familiar with rabies and mentioned dog bite as a means of transmission. But discordant with current scientific knowledge, 84% and 32% of the respondents respectively mentioned any type of contact (irrespective of skin condition) with saliva, and inhalation as a means of transmission of rabies. Eighty four percent of the respondents relied on traditional healers for management of rabies.
The study shows high canine rabies burden, and lack of sufficient awareness about the disease and high reliance on traditional treatment that interfere with timely post exposure management. Vaccination of dogs, proper post exposure management, and increasing the awareness of the community are suggested to reduce the disease burden.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects all mammals including humans. Domestic dog is the main source of rabies for humans and livestock in developing countries. Rabies has been prevalent in Ethiopia for centuries, affecting humans and livestock. In this study we estimated the incidence of the disease in North Gondar zone, Ethiopia and assessed the people's awareness about the disease. We found a high annual rabies incidence of 2.33 cases per 100,000 in humans, 412.83 cases per 100,000 in dogs, 19.89 cases per 100,000 in cattle, 67.68 cases per 100,000 in equines, and 14.45 cases per 100,000 in goats. Although almost all interviewed people were familiar with the disease, quite a lot of them (84%) have some opinions that are incongruent with existing scientific knowledge about the cause and means of transmission of the disease. We also found high reliance on traditional healers, whose practice has not been proven effective scientifically, for the management of the disease. In conclusion, the disease poses significant public health and economic problem that warrants multi-dimensional approach towards its control. Vaccination of dogs, proper post exposure management, and increasing the awareness of the community about the disease should be considered for controlling the disease.
Rabies continues to be a major public health problem in the Philippines, where 200–300 human cases were reported annually between 2001 and 2011. Understanding the phylogeography of rabies viruses is important for establishing a more effective and feasible control strategy.
We performed a molecular analysis of rabies viruses in the Philippines using rabied animal brain samples. The samples were collected from 11 of 17 regions, which covered three island groups (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao). Partial nucleoprotein (N) gene sequencing was performed on 57 samples and complete glycoprotein (G) gene sequencing was performed on 235 samples collected between 2004 and 2010.
The Philippine strains of rabies viruses were included in a distinct phylogenetic cluster, previously named Asian 2b, which appeared to have diverged from the Chinese strain named Asian 2a. The Philippine strains were further divided into three major clades, which were found exclusively in different island groups: clades L, V, and M in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, respectively. Clade L was subdivided into nine subclades (L1–L9) and clade V was subdivided into two subclades (V1 and V2). With a few exceptions, most strains in each subclade were distributed in specific geographic areas. There were also four strains that were divided into two genogroups but were not classified into any of the three major clades, and all four strains were found in the island group of Luzon.
We detected three major clades and two distinct genogroups of rabies viruses in the Philippines. Our data suggest that viruses of each clade and subclade evolved independently in each area without frequent introduction into other areas. An important implication of these data is that geographically targeted dog vaccination using the island group approach may effectively control rabies in the Philippines.
Rabies continues to be a major public health problem in the Philippines. We conducted a molecular epidemiological study of rabies using the complete glycoprotein (G) gene from 235 animal brain samples collected in the Philippines between 2004 and 2010. We identified three major clades and two distinct genogroups in the Philippines. The three major clades L, V, and M were found specifically in the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao island groups, respectively. Additionally, two minor genogroups were located in the Luzon island group. These data suggest that although human mediated transmission may have occurred, these virus clades evolved independently after a single introduction into each island group. All of the analyzed Philippine strains were clustered into Asian 2b, which diverged from the Chinese strain Asian 2a. No recent introduction of rabies into the Philippines from other countries was apparent. The elimination of rabies by 2020 is a national goal in the Philippines, necessitating urgent development of a more effective and feasible strategy for controlling rabies. Our findings indicate that a geographically targeted dog vaccination campaign may effectively control rabies in island nations such as the Philippines.
The objective of this paper is to report evaluated observations from survey records captured through a cross-sectional observational study regarding canine populations and dog owners in rabies enzootic KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Our aim was to evaluate respondent knowledge of canine rabies and response to dog bite incidents towards improved rabies control. Six communities consisting of three land use types were randomly sampled from September 2009 to January 2011, using a cluster design. A total of 1992 household records were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression modeling to evaluate source of rabies knowledge, experiences with dog bites, and factors affecting treatment received within respective households that occurred within the 365 day period prior to the surveys. 86% of the population surveyed had heard of rabies. Non-dog owners were 1.6 times more likely to have heard of rabies than dog owners; however, fear of rabies was not a reason for not owning a dog. Government veterinary services were reported most frequently as respondent source of rabies knowledge. Nearly 13% of households had a member bitten by a dog within the year prior to the surveys with 82% of the victims visiting a clinic as a response to the bite. 35% of these clinic visitors received at least one rabies vaccination. Regression modeling determined that the only response variable that significantly reflected the likelihood of a patient receiving rabies vaccination or not was the term for the area surveyed. Overall the survey showed that most respondents have heard of dog associated rabies and seek medical assistance at a clinic in response to a dog bite regardless of offending dog identification. An in-depth study involving factors associated within area clinics may highlight the area dependency for patients receiving rabies post exposure prophylaxis shown by this model.
Canine rabies has been enzootic to KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa since the mid-1970's. Vaccination requirements for domestic species and animal control laws enforced in industrialized countries frequently eliminate the need for rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) when an animal bite occurs. Rabies deaths in Africa are frequently linked to poverty and ignorance resulting in a lack of urgency for PEP in an environment where less than 70% of the domestic dog population is vaccinated against the disease. The results presented here are part of a larger canine ecology study conducted in KwaZulu-Natal from September 2009 through January 2011. The six surveyed areas consisted of three land use types: three rural villages, two urban townships and one peri-urban township. The findings show that although a large portion of the population has awareness of rabies, there is a lack of understanding in the response to dog bites. Regression modeling of data suggests that there is an effect of area upon the result of a bite victim receiving PEP as part of treatment. Detailed retrospective study of dog bite incidence and an introspective study of clinics and treatment centers within the province may help explain the results found in this study.
Lyssaviruses (family Rhabdoviridae) constitute one of the most important groups of viral zoonoses globally. All lyssaviruses cause the disease rabies, an acute progressive encephalitis for which, once symptoms occur, there is no effective cure. Currently available vaccines are highly protective against the predominantly circulating lyssavirus species. Using next-generation sequencing technologies, we have obtained the whole-genome sequence for a novel lyssavirus, Ikoma lyssavirus (IKOV), isolated from an African civet in Tanzania displaying clinical signs of rabies. Genetically, this virus is the most divergent within the genus Lyssavirus. Characterization of the genome will help to improve our understanding of lyssavirus diversity and enable investigation into vaccine-induced immunity and protection.
Australia uses a protocol combining human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and rabies vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), with the aim of achieving an antibody titre of ≥0.5 IU/ml, as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, as soon as possible.
We present the course of PEP administration and serological testing for four men with complex requirements. Following dog bites in Thailand, two men (62 years old, 25 years old) received no HRIG and had delayed vaccine courses: 23 days between dose two and three, and 18 days between dose one and two, respectively. Both seroconverted following dose four. Another 62-year-old male, who was HIV-positive (normal CD4 count), also suffered a dog bite and had delayed care receiving IM rabies vaccine on days six and nine in Thailand. Back in Australia, he received three single and one double dose IM vaccines followed by another double dose of vaccine, delivered intradermally and subcutaneously, before seroconverting. A 23-year-old male with a history of allergies received simultaneous HRIG and vaccine following potential ABLV exposure, and developed rash, facial oedema and throat tingling, which was treated with a parenteral antihistamine and tapering dose of steroids. Serology showed he seroconverted following dose four.
These cases show that PEP can be complicated by exposures in tourist settings where reliable prophylaxis may not be available, where treatment is delayed or deviates from World Health Organization recommendations. Due to the potentially short incubation time of rabies/ABLV, timely prophylaxis after a potential exposure is needed to ensure a prompt and adequate immune response, particularly in patients who are immune-suppressed or who have not received HRIG. Serology should be used to confirm an adequate response to PEP when treatment is delayed or where a concurrent immunosuppressing medical condition or therapy exists.
In Australia, the administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) occurs for potentially exposed returned travellers from endemic regions or for potential local exposure to Australian Bat Lyssavirus. For Australian tourists, delays in commencing PEP or not receiving HRIG or all recommended doses of vaccine are common. We report a case series where serology provided information in four patients with delayed, incomplete, or complicated PEP treatment. Three of these patients reported a dog bite in Thailand and the fourth was scratched by a bat and had bat urine enter his eye in Australia. Management was complicated by lack of HRIG administration, delays in the recommended timeframe for receipt of vaccine doses, and immunosuppression caused by co-administration of steroids and by HIV infection with a normal CD4 count. All patients seroconverted but this was delayed in some cases, and in the HIV-positive subject required a double dose of vaccine delivered intradermally and subcutaneously. In complex or non-standard PEP delivery, including delayed treatment and immunosuppression due to steroid treatment, HIV or another immunosuppressing medical condition, serology can be used to guide further treatment and should be used to confirm seroconversion.
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.
China has seen a massive resurgence of rabies cases in the last 15 years with more than 25,000 human fatalities. Initial cases were reported in the southwest but are now reported in almost every province. There have been several phylogenetic investigations into the origin and spread of the virus within China but few reports investigating the impact of the epidemic on neighboring countries. We therefore collected nucleoprotein sequences from China and South East Asia and investigated their phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationship. Our results indicate that within South East Asia, isolates mainly cluster according to their geographic origin. We found evidence of sporadic exchange of strains between neighboring countries, but it appears that the major strain responsible for the current Chinese epidemic has not been exported. This suggests that national geographical boundaries and border controls are effective at halting the spread of rabies from China into adjacent regions. We further investigated the geographic structure of Chinese sequences and found that the current epidemic is dominated by variant strains that were likely present at low levels in previous domestic epidemics. We also identified epidemiological linkages between high incidence provinces consistent with observations based on surveillance data from human rabies cases.
Rabies as a fatal zoonotic disease continues to be a public threat to global public health. After India, China reports the second highest number of human cases, with more than 117,500 deaths and three major epidemics since 1950. China remains in the middle of the third epidemic. In this work we investigate the impact of China on rabies in South East (SE) Asia. We collected nucleoprotein sequences from samples isolated throughout SE Asia and investigated their phylogenetic and geographic relationships. Our results indicate that clear geographic patterns exist within rabies virus in SE Asia, with isolates mainly clustered according to their geographic origin. While we found evidence of the sporadic exchange of strains between neighboring countries, the major strain responsible for the current Chinese epidemic does not appear to spread to neighboring countries. Our findings suggest that national geographical boundaries and border controls act as effective barriers to halt the spread of rabies from China into adjacent regions. We further investigated the geographic structure of Chinese sequences and found the current epidemic is dominated by variant strains that likely evolved from previous domestic epidemics. Our study provides valuable insight for rabies control and prevention in China and SE Asia.
Despite the availability of effective interventions and public recognition of the severity of the problem, rabies continues to suffer neglect by programme planners in India and other low and middle income countries. We investigate whether this state of ‘policy impasse’ is due to, at least in part, the research community not catering to the information needs of the policy makers.
Methods & Findings
Our objective was to review the research output on rabies from India and examine its alignment with national policy priorities. A systematic literature review of all rabies research articles published from India between 2001 and 2011 was conducted. The distribution of conducted research was compared to the findings of an earlier research prioritization exercise. It was found that a total of 93 research articles were published from India since 2001, out of which 61% consisted of laboratory based studies focussing on rabies virus. Animals were the least studied group, comprising only 8% of the research output. One third of the articles were published in three journals focussing on vaccines and infectious disease epidemiology and the top 4 institutions (2 each from the animal and human health sectors) collectively produced 49% of the national research output. Biomedical research related to development of new interventions dominated the total output as opposed to the identified priority domains of socio-politic-economic research, basic epidemiological research and research to improve existing interventions.
The paper highlights the gaps between rabies research and policy needs, and makes the case for developing a strategic research agenda that focusses on rabies control as an expected outcome.
Rabies is among the most widely spread zoonoses (diseases that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans) in humans in most Asian, African and Latin American countries. Even though researchers have demonstrated effectiveness of strategies to control rabies at the population level, such as post exposure prophylaxis in humans and animal birth control and immunization among dogs, are well known, policy makers in most countries are hesitant to implement these strategies. This paper examines the disconnect that prevents the translation of scientific research outputs into effective policies. We contrasted the type of research papers published on rabies from India in the last eleven years with a previously identified set of priority research options. We found that most published research articles related to biomedical research focussing on development of new interventions. This was in contrast to policy and systems-related research and research to improve the performance of existing interventions that were identified as priority research options for India earlier. The findings of our study highlight the importance of moving beyond a purely researcher-driven agenda and suggest the need to promote research that has a vision of rabies control in the near future.
In May of 2010, two communities (Truenococha and Santa Marta) reported to be at risk of vampire bat depredation were surveyed in the Province Datem del Marañón in the Loreto Department of Perú. Risk factors for bat exposure included age less than or equal to 25 years and owning animals that had been bitten by bats. Rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (rVNAs) were detected in 11% (7 of 63) of human sera tested. Rabies virus ribonucleoprotein (RNP) immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies were detected in the sera of three individuals, two of whom were also seropositive for rVNA. Rabies virus RNP IgM antibodies were detected in one respondent with no evidence of rVNA or RNP IgG antibodies. Because one respondent with positive rVNA results reported prior vaccination and 86% (six of seven) of rVNA-positive respondents reported being bitten by bats, these data suggest nonfatal exposure of persons to rabies virus, which is likely associated with vampire bat depredation.
Equidae; Kenya; prevention and control; rabies; travel; world health; zebras; viruses; zoonoses
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.
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.
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.
rabies virus; lyssavirus; rabies; health knowledge; attitudes; practice; outbreak; epizootic; community survey; viruses; zoonosis; Arizona; United States; USA; translocation; wild animals; wildlife; education
Rates of evolution span orders of magnitude among RNA viruses with important implications for viral transmission and emergence. Although the tempo of viral evolution is often ascribed to viral features such as mutation rates and transmission mode, these factors alone cannot explain variation among closely related viruses, where host biology might operate more strongly on viral evolution. Here, we analyzed sequence data from hundreds of rabies viruses collected from bats throughout the Americas to describe dramatic variation in the speed of rabies virus evolution when circulating in ecologically distinct reservoir species. Integration of ecological and genetic data through a comparative Bayesian analysis revealed that viral evolutionary rates were labile following historical jumps between bat species and nearly four times faster in tropical and subtropical bats compared to temperate species. The association between geography and viral evolution could not be explained by host metabolism, phylogeny or variable selection pressures, and instead appeared to be a consequence of reduced seasonality in bat activity and virus transmission associated with climate. Our results demonstrate a key role for host ecology in shaping the tempo of evolution in multi-host viruses and highlight the power of comparative phylogenetic methods to identify the host and environmental features that influence transmission dynamics.
Rapid evolution of RNA viruses is intimately linked to their success in overcoming the defenses of their hosts. Several studies have shown that rates of viral evolution can vary dramatically among distantly related viral families. Variability in the speed of evolution among closely related viruses has received less attention, but could be an important determinant of the geographic or host species origins of viral emergence if certain species or regions promote especially rapid evolution. Here, using a dataset of rabies virus sequences collected from bat species throughout the Americas, we test the role of inter-specific differences in reservoir host biology on the tempo of viral evolution. We show the annual rate of molecular evolution to be a malleable trait of viruses that is accelerated in subtropical and tropical bats compared to temperate species. The association between geography and the speed of evolution appears to reflect differences in the seasonality of rabies virus transmission in different climatic zones. Our results illustrate that the viral mechanisms that are commonly invoked to explain heterogeneous rates of evolution among viral families may be insufficient to explain evolution in multi-host viruses and indicate a role for host biology in shaping the speed of viral evolution.
Evidence in support of a novel lyssavirus was obtained from brain samples of an African civet in Tanzania. Results of phylogenetic analysis of nucleoprotein gene sequences from representative Lyssavirus species and this novel lyssavirus provided strong empirical evidence that this is a new lyssavirus species, designated Ikoma lyssavirus.
Tanzania; African civet; rabies virus; West Caucasian bat virus; rabies virus; viruses; Lyssavirus; lyssaviruses; Ikoma lyssavirus; novel rabies virus; novel lyssavirus
Since January 2007, a total of 11 rabid deer from 4 deer farms have been identified in 2 neighboring Pennsylvania counties. Vaccination of deer against rabies, decreasing wildlife animal contact with deer, and education of deer farmers may prevent further cases of rabies in captive deer and exposures to humans.
rabies; epidemiology; lyssavirus; deer; Pennsylvania; viruses; zoonoses
To better understand the role of bats as reservoirs of Bartonella spp., we estimated Bartonella spp. prevalence and genetic diversity in bats in Guatemala during 2009. We found prevalence of 33% and identified 21 genetic variants of 13 phylogroups. Vampire bat–associated Bartonella spp. may cause undiagnosed illnesses in humans.
Bartonella spp.; bats; Desmodus rotundus; Guatemala; bacteria; dispatch
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.
The significance of bats as sources of emerging infectious diseases has been increasingly appreciated, and new data have been accumulated rapidly during recent years. For some emerging pathogens the bat origin has been confirmed (such as lyssaviruses, henipaviruses, coronaviruses), for other it has been suggested (filoviruses). Several recently identified viruses remain to be ‘orphan’ but have a potential for further emergence (such as Tioman, Menangle, and Pulau viruses). In the present review we summarize information on major bat-associated emerging infections and discuss specific characteristics of bats as carriers of pathogens (from evolutionary, ecological, and immunological positions). We also discuss drivers and forces of an infectious disease emergence and describe various existing and potential approaches for control and prevention of such infections at individual, populational, and societal levels.
bats; Chiroptera; emerging infectious disease; rabies; lyssavirus; coronavirus; filovirus; henipavirus; prevention; control
Canine rabies, responsible for most human rabies deaths, is a serious global public health concern. This zoonosis is entirely preventable, but by focusing solely upon rabies prevention in humans, this “incurable wound” persists at high costs. Although preventing human deaths through canine rabies elimination is feasible, dog rabies control is often neglected, because dogs are not considered typical economic commodities by the animal health sector. Here, we demonstrate that the responsibility of managing rabies falls upon multiple sectors, that a truly integrated approach is the key to rabies elimination, and that considerable progress has been made to this effect. Achievements include the construction of global rabies networks and organizational partnerships; development of road maps, operational toolkits, and a blueprint for rabies prevention and control; and opportunities for scaling up and replication of successful programs. Progress must continue towards overcoming the remaining challenges preventing the ultimate goal of rabies elimination.