2000, Number 2
Isolation and molecular characterization of rabies virus from a non-hematophagous bat in Mexico City
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ABSTRACTThe objective of this study was to characterize antigenically and genetically a rabies virus isolate obtained from an insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis in Mexico City in 1995. At the time of the capture, the animal was presented with incoordination, hirsute hair and general weakness. The bat was positive for rabies using the direct immunofluorescence test. The antigenic characterization was carried out by the indirect immunofluorescence technique with a panel of 8 monoclonal antibodies produced against the viral nucleoprotein. A positive rabies sample isolated from a bovine bitten by a vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, was used as a control. Genetic studies were done by the limited sequencing analyses of a portion of 320 base pairs between positions 1094 and 1413 of the nucleoprotein gene. The genetic comparison of the samples was performed using the Pile Up- and Distance programs of the Genetic Computer Group package (GCG) version 8.1. The antigenic characterization showed that the bat sample was antigenic variant 9 which reservoir is the non-hematophagous bat Tadarida brasiliensis. The control virus was the antigenic variant 3. This variant is widely distributed throughout Latin America, and its reservoir is the Desmodus rotundus. Genetically, the Tadarida brasiliensis virus was 91.7% homologous to the bovine isolate, but showed a high degree of homology (99.7%) with rabies isolates obtained from Tadarida brasiliensis in the US. This finding suggests the possible occurrence of rabies endemic cycles in the Tadarida brasiliensis population of Mexico. The high diversity and population density of non hematophagous bats in Mexico, and the results presented here emphasize the need to further study about the role of non-hematophagous bats in rabies epidemiology in this country and other parts of Latin America.
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