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Use of a molecular epidemiological database to track human rabies case histories in South Africa

  • P. COETZEE (a1) (a2), J. WEYER (a1) (a2), J. T. PAWESKA (a2), F. J. BURT (a2), W. MARKOTTER (a1) and L. H. NEL (a1)...

Summary

The KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa have experienced a serious dog rabies epidemic over the past three decades. Towards a better understanding of this epidemic, we have previously analysed nucleotide sequences of 142 rabies virus specimens that were obtained from these regions during 2003–2004 and provided a molecular description of the geographical distribution of rabies viral variants in the affected provinces. Here, as an extension, we studied five human cases that occurred during 2002–2003 and demonstrated the use of the sequence database in tracking unknown human rabies case histories. We were able to identify the geographical origin of viruses responsible for each human infection and in one case obtained evidence that suggested a non-bite transmission of rabies virus from an infected dog to a child. We argue for the value of this information in surveillance and epidemiological study and in the follow-up and management of potential exposures.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Professor L. H. Nel, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, 0001 Pretoria, South Africa. (Email: louis.nel@up.ac.za)

References

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1. Bishop, GC, et al. Guide for the medical, veterinary and allied professions. Pretoria: Rabies Advisory Group, 2003; Government Printer (2nd printing).
2. Swanepoel, R. Rabies. In: Coetzer, JAW, Tustin, RC eds. Infectious Diseases of Livestock with Special Reference to Southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press 2004, pp. 11231182.
3. Coetzee, P, Nel, LH. Emerging epidemic dog rabies in coastal South Africa: a molecular epidemiological analysis. Virus Research 2007; 126: 186195.
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5. Nel, LH, et al. Mongoose rabies in southern Africa: a re-evaluation based on molecular epidemiology. Virus Research 2005; 109: 165173.
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11. Messenger, SL, Smith, JS, Rupprecht, CE. Emerging epidemiology of bat-associated cryptic cases of rabies in humans in the United States. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2002; 35: 738747.
12. Nel, LH, et al. New cases of Mokola virus infection in South Africa: a genotypic comparison of southern African isolates. Virus Genes 2000; 20: 2, 103106.
13. Markotter, W, et al. Isolation of Lagos Bat Virus from water mongoose. Emerging Infectious Disease 2006; 12: 11931918.
14. Paweska, J, Leman, P, Blumberg, L. Rabies in South Africa, 2006. Sandringham, South Africa: National Institute for Communicable Diseases, 2007; Communicable Diseases Surveillance Bulletin 7 (vol. 5, no 1).
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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