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J Virol Methods. 1998 Nov;75(1):1-8.

Polymerase chain reaction protocols for rabies virus discrimination.

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Rabies Centre of Expertise, Animal Diseases Research Institute, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Nepean, Ont.


The development of RT PCR methodology has facilitated greatly the genetic characterisation of many rabies viruses (RVs), distinct strains of which persist in certain host species reservoirs within geographically defined regions. The relative temporally conserved nature of certain regions of the RV genome, particularly the N gene, permits development of rapid molecular methods for RV typing. Two main strategies have been applied to viral discrimination: (1) restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of PCR products and (2) strain-specific PCR (SS-PCR), in which sequences of specific viral strains are amplified differentially using strain-specific primers. Both these approaches have yielded methods of value to rabies epidemiological studies and control programs in Ontario. These procedures have facilitated the identification of intra-strain variants of the arctic fox strain, the only terrestrial RV strain persisting in the area, and they allow rapid discrimination of this strain from those circulating in insectivorous bat reservoirs and from the foreign raccoon strain, which continues to spread throughout the northeastern US and threatens to enter Ontario. Such methods can be adapted readily for use in other regions harbouring multiple overlapping RV reservoirs.

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