ISSN 2398-2969      

Rabies

Clapis

Introduction

  • Cause: Rabies virus; a member of the Rhabdoviridae family, genus Lyssavirus.
  • It remains a feared zoonotic disease throughout much of the world and kills more than 55,000 people and millions of animals worldwide (WH0, 2013).
  • Rabies circulates within a number of wildlife host species that act as reservoirs of the disease.
  • Rabies is able to infect all mammals and, as such, rabbits are susceptible.
  • Small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, other rodents and rabbits are, however, very seldom infected, perhaps because they would not usually survive an attack by a rabid animal.
  • Rabies in rabbits is of great historical importance, playing a significant role in the study of rabies and development of a rabies vaccine.
  • Signs: rabbits primarily exhibit paralytic rabies. Rabies in rabbits often progresses to paralysis or paresis in one or more limbs, yet they may also develop head tremors. Early signs of infection may also be non-specific and include lethargy, anorexia and fever. This was of importance in the search for a vaccine as these rabbits were easier to study than convulsing rabid dogs.
  • Diagnosis: post mortem diagnosis; immunohistochemistry of the hippocampus, cerebellum and brainstem.
  • Treatment: there is currently to treatment available.
  • Prognosis: fatal.

Historical note

  • In 1881, Roux, Chamberland and Thuillier, members of Louis Pasteur's team, showed that the central nervous system is the primary site of reproduction of the rabies virus.
  • These researchers transmitted rabies through the sub-meningeal inoculation of rabbits.
  • Rabbits were infected with rabies by trepanation: spinal cord of a dog suffering from common street rabies was thus introduced under the dura mater and was found to elicit rabies in these animals after an incubation period of about 15 days.
  • Between 1882 and 1885, Louis Pasteur and his colleagues conducted further studies on rabies in rabbits, culminating in the development of a vaccine capable of protecting experimentally challenged rabbits and dogs. It was this rabies vaccine that was successfully used to treat Joseph Meister, who received 14 bites from a rabid dog.
  • The vaccine was based on rabid rabbit spinal cord. The cord was desiccated using potassium hydroxide to attenuate the virus. The resulting preparations were then used to inoculate canine patients and in doing so render them protected against rabies.

Signs

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Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention and outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • McElhinney L M, Marston D A, Stankov S et al (2008) Molecular epidemiology of lyssaviruses in Eurasia. Dev Biol (Basel) 131, 125-131 PubMed.
  • Margalith M & Vilalta A (2006) Sustained protective rabies neutralizing antibody titers after administration of cationic lipid-formulated pDNA vaccine. Genetic Vaccines & Therapy 15 (4), 2 PubMed.
  • Eidson M, Matthews S D, Willsey A L et al (2005) Rabies virus infection in a pet guinea pig and seven pet rabbits. JAVMA 227 (6), 932-935, 918 PubMed.
  • Karp B E, Ball N E, Scott C R et al (1999) Rabies in two privately owned domestic rabbits. JAVMA 215 (12), 1824-1827, 1806 PubMed.
  • Childs J E, Colby L, Krebs J W et al (1997) Surveillance and spatiotemporal associations of rabies in rodents and lagomorphs in the United States, 1985-1994. J Wildl Dis 33 (1), 20-27 PubMed.
  • Nicholson K G, Prestage H, Cole P J et al (1981) Multisite intradermal antirabies vaccination. Immune responses in man and protection of rabbits against death from street virus by post exposure administration of human diploid-cell-strain rabies vaccine. Lancet (8252), 915-918 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Rabies. Website:www.cdc.gov/rabies. Last accessed 18th March 2014.
  • World Heatlh Organization (2013) Rabies. Website:www.who.int/mediacentre/owner-factsheets/fs099/en/. Last accessed 18th March 2014. 
  • Murray P R, Rosenthal K S & Pfaller M A (2009) Eds Rhabdoviruses, Filoviruses and Bornaviruses.In: Medical Microbiology. Mosby, Elsevier. ISBN: 9780323054706. pp 593-597.
  • WHO (2004) WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies. Geneva, Switzerland, WHO.
  • Boucher S & Nouaille L (2002) Maladies des Lapins. 2nd edn. France Agricole, Paris France.
  • Pasteur L (1885a) Comptes rendus de lAcadémie des Sciences, séance du 26 octobre 1885. CI. pp 765-773 & 774.
  • Pasteur L (1885b) Bulletin de lAcadémie de Médecine, séance du 27 octobre 18852e sér. XIV. pp 1431-1439.

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