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J Theor Biol. 2007 Apr 7;245(3):498-509. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Integrative models of bat rabies immunology, epizootiology and disease demography.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, 569 Dabney Hall, 1416 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-1610, USA. ddimitr1@utk.edu

Abstract

Bats are natural reservoirs of rabies. We address the maintenance of the disease in bat colonies by developing individual and population models that generate indicators of risk of rabies to bats, that provide dynamic estimates of effects of rabies on population densities, and that suggest consequences of viral exposures and infections in bats relative to physiological and ecological characteristics of bats in different habitats. We present individual models (within host) for the immune responses to a rabies virus challenge, an immunotypic disease model that describes the evolution of the disease and a disease demographics model, which is structured by immunotypic response governed by immune system efficiency. Model simulations are consistent with available data, characterized by relatively low prevalence of the virus in colonies and much higher prevalence of rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies. Under model conditions, there is a robust non-clinical state that can be attained by the exposed individual that allows persistence of the disease in the population.

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