Spill-over of European bat lyssavirus type 1 into a stone marten (Martes foina) in Germany

T Müller, J Cox, W Peter, R Schäfer, N Johnson, L M McElhinney, J L Geue, K Tjørnehøj, A R Fooks
Journal of Veterinary Medicine. B, Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health 2004, 51 (2): 49-54
European bat lyssavirus type 1 (EBLV-1, genotype 5) is known to endemically circulate in insectivorous bat populations in Germany. In August 2001, a rabies suspect stone marten (Martes foina) was found in the city of Burg (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany) and was sent to the regional veterinary laboratory for routine rabies diagnosis. Whereas brain samples repeatedly tested negative in the fluorescent antibody test for classical rabies virus (genotype 1), the mouse inoculation test and the rabies tissue culture inoculation test yielded positive results. Rabies viral RNA was also detected in the stone marten brain sample both by nested and heminested RT-PCR specific for the nucleoprotein gene and for the nucleoprotein phosphoprotein junction of rabies virus. The amplification products were sequenced to genotype the isolate. Sequence data obtained from the first-round RT-PCR products were analysed and the suspect stone marten isolate was confirmed as a rabies related virus (EBLV-1a). Phylogenetic comparison with sequences from recent genotype five isolates from Germany and Denmark showed that it was closely related to a previous isolate of EBLV-1 from a serotine bat in Saxony-Anhalt obtained in the same year in an area adjacent to the place where the EBLV-1 infected stone marten was found. Both EBLV-1 isolates share a 99.5% identity. This is the first report of an EBLV-1a spill-over from an insectivorous bat into wildlife in Europe.


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