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Rabies and rabies-related lyssaviruses 

Rabies and rabies-related lyssaviruses
Rabies and rabies-related lyssaviruses

Ashley C. Banyard

and Anthony R. Fooks

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date: 08 December 2021

Rabies virus is epidemic in most parts of the world. It can replicate in all warm-blooded animals in which it causes a devastating neurological illness, which almost invariably results in death. Rabies is a disease of animals and human infection is a ‘spillover’ event occurring most commonly following a bite from an infected dog. Infection is seen in different patterns; rabies with little or no wildlife involvement, sometimes known as urban or street rabies, or in the wildlife population with spillover into domesticated animals (sylvatic).

Eleven distinct species of lyssavirus are now recognized: species 1 is the most common strain found predominately in terrestrial animals. Species 2-7 are found in bat species with the exception of Mokola virus (species 4). Despite the availability of effective vaccines significant mortality still occurs, mostly in the tropics. The majority of rabies free countries are islands which are able to remain rabies free by import controls. Effective animal vaccines are available and dog rabies is well controlled in most parts of the developed world with dog vaccination. However, it remains an intractable problem in many countries in Asia and Africa due to lack of infrastructure, cost of vaccines and difficulty to control dog population. In recent years progress in controlling wildlife rabies has been achieved in west Europe using vaccine in bait, which offers promise for other regions with complex epidemiology.

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