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Emergence of lyssaviruses in the Old World: the case of Africa.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, 0001 Pretoria, South Africa.


Rabies has a long history of occurrence throughout Africa, spanning hundreds of years. At least four distinct Lyssavirus species persist throughout the continent, among carnivores, bats and other mammals. Rabies virus is the most cosmopolitan member, with primary reservoirs within dogs and mongoose, but other wildlife vectors are important in viral maintenance, such as jackals. Besides a prominent toll on humans and domestic animals, the disease has an underappreciated role in conservation biology, especially for such highly endangered fauna as African wild dogs and Ethiopian wolves. Both Duvenhage and Lagos bat viruses are adapted to bats, but their epidemiology, together with Mokola virus, is poorly understood. Significantly, less than ideal cross-reactivity with modern biologicals used for veterinary and public health interventions is a major cause for concern among these emerging viral agents.

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