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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Genetic characterization of rabies field isolates from Venezuela

C A de Mattos, C C de Mattos, J S Smith, E T Miller, S Papo, A Utrera, B I Osburn
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1996, 34 (6): 1553-8
8735118
Twenty samples from cases of rabies in humans and domestic animals diagnosed in Venezuela between 1990 and 1994 and one sample from a vampire bat collected in 1976 were characterized by reactivity to monoclonal antibodies against the viral nucleoprotein and by patterns of nucleotide substitution in the nucleoprotein gene. Three antigenic variants were found: 1, 3, and 5. Antigenic variant 1 included all samples from dogs and humans infected by contact with rabid dogs. Unique substitutions permitted identification of two separate outbreaks of dog rabies in the Maracaibo Depression and Los Llanos region and in the Andean region of Venezuela. Samples from the vampire bat and two head of cattle were characterized as antigenic variant 3 and showed a nucleotide sequence homology of 96 to 98% to each other and to samples of vampire bat-associated rabies throughout Latin America. Ten of the remaining 12 samples were characterized as antigenic variant 5. Genetic studies indicated that 11 of these samples formed a highly homologous and distinctive group but were closely related to samples of vampire bat-associated rabies. The 12th sample of variant 5 (from a cat) showed only 78 to 80% genetic homology to samples of rabies associated with vampire bats. The application of antigenic and genetic typing to rabies surveillance in Latin America is essential to improve control programs. Recognition of the source of outbreaks of dog rabies and identification of wildlife species maintaining sylvatic cycles of rabies transmission permit better utilization of public health resources.

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