Street rabies virus strains associated with insectivorous bats are less pathogenic than strains isolated from other reservoirs

Rabies is a fatal and viral zoonosis that causes acute, progressive encephalitis and remains an important concern in public health. In the last few years, there has been a change in the epidemiological profile of rabies after implementing canine rabies control in the Americas, which has led to a significant increase in both human and pet cases of rabies associated with insectivorous bats. Thus, it is important to understand the pathogenesis caused by Rabies virus (RABV) isolates from insectivorous bats. Viral growth kinetics, cell-to-cell spread and virus uptake in vitro were analyzed for RABV isolates from Eptesicus furiralis and Myotis nigricans. For pathogenesis evaluation, mice were inoculated with RABV isolates from Eptesicus furiralis and Myotis nigricans, and clinical signs were observed for 40 days. We observed that the insectivorous bat strains showed a higher replication rate, faster cell-to-cell spread and delayed virus uptake in N2a cells. Furthermore, after the first sign of a clinical infection, mice infected with Myotis nigricans and Eptesicus furiralis isolates succumbed rapidly (6?±?9 days) compared with RABV strains associated with other reservoirs. Our results show that the insectivorous bat RABV strains are less pathogenic for mice than strains associated with other reservoirs. In addition, this study also indicates that the differences in the biological characteristics of the RABV strains are important to their pathogenicity. An enhanced understanding of rabies pathogenesis may be important for the development of novel therapies for humans and in the implementation of rabies control strategies.
Keywords
Rabies;  Insectivorous bats;  Pathogenesis;  Replication

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Fuoco NL, Fernandes ER, Silva SR, Luiz FG, Ribeiro OG, Katz ISS. Street rabies virus strains associated with insectivorous bats are less pathogenic than strains isolated from other reservoirs. Antiviral Res.. 2018 Dec;160:94-100. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2018.10.023.
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