Rabies Research

Interferon-λ Attenuates Rabies Virus Infection by Inducing Interferon-Stimulated Genes and Alleviating Neurological Inflammation.

Rabies, caused by rabies virus (RABV), is a fatal neurological disease that still causes more than 59,000 human deaths each year. Type III interferon IFN-λs are cytokines with type I IFN-like antiviral activities. Although IFN-λ can restrict the infection for some viruses, especially intestinal viruses, the inhibitory effect against RABV infection remains undefined. In this study, the function of type III IFN against RABV infection was investigated. Initially, we found that IFN-λ2 and IFN-λ3 could inhibit RABV replication in cells. To characterize the role of IFN-λ in RABV infection in a mouse model, recombinant RABVs expressing murine IFN-λ2 or IFN-λ3, termed as rB2c-IFNλ2 or rB2c-IFNλ3, respectively, were constructed and rescued. It was found that expression of IFN-λ could reduce the pathogenicity of RABV and limit viral spread in the brains by different infection routes. Furthermore, expression of IFN-λ could induce the activation of the JAK-STAT pathway, resulting in the production of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). It was also found that rRABVs expressing IFN-λ could reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines in primary astrocytes and microgila cells, restrict the opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), and prevent excessive infiltration of inflammatory cells into the brain, which could be responsible for the neuronal damage caused by RABV. Consistently, IFN-λ was found to maintain the integrity of tight junction (TJ) protein ZO-1 of BBB to alleviate neuroinflammation in a transwell model. Our study underscores the role of IFN-λ in inhibiting RABV infection, which potentiates IFN-λ as a possible therapeutic agent for the treatment of RABV infection.

Single-Cell Analysis of Neuroinflammatory Responses Following Intracranial Injection of G-Deleted Rabies Viruses

Viral vectors are essential tools for the study of neural circuits, with glycoprotein-deleted rabies viruses being widely used for monosynaptic retrograde tracing to map connectivity between specific cell types in the nervous system. However, the use of rabies virus is limited by the cytotoxicity and the inflammatory responses these viruses trigger. While components of the rabies virus genome contribute to its cytotoxic effects, the function of other neuronal and non-neuronal cells within the vicinity of the infected host neurons in either effecting or mitigating virally-induced tissue damage are still being elucidated. Here, we analyzed 60,212 single-cell RNA profiles to assess both global and cell-type-specific transcriptional responses in the mouse dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) following intracranial injection of glycoprotein-deleted rabies viruses and axonal infection of dorsal raphe serotonergic neurons. Gene pathway analyses revealed a down-regulation of genes involved in metabolic processes and neurotransmission following infection. We also identified several transcriptionally diverse leukocyte populations that infiltrate the brain and are distinct from resident immune cells. Cell type-specific patterns of cytokine expression showed that antiviral responses were likely orchestrated by Type I and Type II interferon signaling from microglia and infiltrating CD4+ T cells, respectively. Additionally, we uncovered transcriptionally distinct states of microglia along an activation trajectory that may serve different functions, which range from surveillance to antigen presentation and cytokine secretion. Intercellular interactions inferred from transcriptional data suggest that CD4+ T cells facilitate microglial state transitions during the inflammatory response. Our study uncovers the heterogeneity of immune cells mediating neuroinflammatory responses and provides a critical evaluation of the compatibility between rabies-mediated connectivity mapping and single-cell transcriptional profiling. These findings provide additional insights into the distinct contributions of various cell types in mediating different facets of antiviral responses in the brain and will facilitate the design of strategies to circumvent immune responses to improve the efficacy of viral gene delivery.

Activity in grafted human iPS cell-derived cortical neurons integrated in stroke-injured rat brain regulates motor behavior

Stem cell transplantation can improve behavioral recovery after stroke in animal models but whether stem cell-derived neurons become functionally integrated into stroke-injured brain circuitry is poorly understood. Here we show that intracortically grafted human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-derived cortical neurons send widespread axonal projections to both hemispheres of rats with ischemic lesions in the cerebral cortex. Using rabies virus-based transsynaptic tracing, we find that at 6 mo after transplantation, host neurons in the contralateral somatosensory cortex receive monosynaptic inputs from grafted neurons. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrates myelination of the graft-derived axons in the corpus callosum and that their terminals form excitatory, glutamatergic synapses on host cortical neurons. We show that the stroke-induced asymmetry in a sensorimotor (cylinder) test is reversed by transplantation. Light-induced inhibition of halorhodopsin-expressing, grafted neurons does not recreate the impairment, indicating that its reversal is not due to neuronal activity in the graft. However, we find bilateral decrease of motor performance in the cylinder test after light-induced inhibition of either grafted or endogenous halorhodopsin-expressing cortical neurons, located in the same area, and after inhibition of endogenous halorhodopsin-expressing cortical neurons by exposure of their axons to light on the contralateral side. Our data indicate that activity in the grafted neurons, probably mediated through transcallosal connections to the contralateral hemisphere, is involved in maintaining normal motor function. This is an example of functional integration of efferent projections from grafted neurons into the stroke-affected brain’s neural circuitry, which raises the possibility that such repair might be achievable also in humans affected by stroke.

Emerging and neglected zoonoses in transplant population

Zoonoses represent a problem of rising importance in the transplant population. A close relationship and changes between human, animal and environmental health (“One Health” concept) significantly influence the transmission and distribution of zoonotic diseases. The aim of this manuscript is to perform a narrative review of the published literature on emerging and neglected zoonoses in the transplant population. Many reports on donor-derived or naturally acquired (re-)emerging arboviral infections such as dengue, chikungunya, West Nile, tick-borne encephalitis and Zika virus infection have demonstrated atypical or more complicated clinical course in immunocompromised hosts. Hepatitis E virus has emerged as a serious problem after solid organ transplantation (SOT), leading to diverse extrahepatic manifestations and chronic hepatitis with unfavorable outcomes. Some neglected pathogens such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus can cause severe infection with multi-organ failure and high mortality. In addition, ehrlichiosis may be more severe with higher case-fatality rates in SOT recipients. Some unusual or severe presentations of borreliosis, anaplasmosis and rickettsioses were also reported among transplant patients. Moreover, toxoplasmosis as infectious complication is a well-recognized zoonosis in this population. Although rabies transmission through SOT transplantation has rarely been reported, it has become a notable problem in some countries. Since the spreading trends of zoonoses are likely to continue, the awareness, recognition and treatment of zoonotic infections among transplant professionals should be imperative.

Duration of immunity after rabies vaccination in dogs: The Rabies Challenge Fund research study.

A prospective study of 65 research beagles kept in a rabies-free environment was undertaken to determine the duration of immunity after they received licensed rabies vaccines. The eventual goal was to extend mandated rabies booster intervals to 5 or 7 years and help reduce the risk of vaccine-associated adverse events. Three groups of dogs were vaccinated with 1 of 2 commercial rabies vaccines or saline at 12 and 15 weeks of age. Beginning 5 years 5 months later, vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs were challenged with virulent rabies virus and observed for 90 days over a series of 3 trials. Humoral and cellular immune responses were examined by serology and flow cytometry. Brain tissue from all challenged dogs was tested for rabies virus. Challenge trial 1 was confounded due to insufficiently virulent virus. In trials 2 and 3 virulent challenge provided 100% mortality in controls. Vaccinate survival was 80% (4/5) after 6 years 7 months, 50% (6/12) after 7 years 1 month, and 20% (1/5) after 8years 0 months. Antibody responses 12 days post-challenge correlated strongly with survival. In a separate non-challenge trial, administration of either a recombinant or a killed rabies vaccine demonstrated memory antibody responses 6 years 1 month after initial vaccination compared with unvaccinated controls. Our data demonstrated that i) duration of immunity to rabies in vaccinated dogs extends beyond 3 years; ii) immunologic memory exists even in vaccinated dogs with serum antibody titer < 0.1 IU/mL; and iii) non-adjuvanted recombinant rabies vaccine induces excellent antibody responses in previously vaccinated dogs 14 days after administration.

L-lactate in cerebrospinal fluid can be used as a biomarker of encephalitis in cattle.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) changes are significant for antemortem diagnoses of some neurological diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate if the concentration of L-lactate in CSF could be used to differentiate healthy from encephalitic cattle. Cerebrospinal fluid samples from healthy cattle (n = 10) and from those naturally affected by rabies (n = 15), bovine herpesvirus type 5 meningoencephalitis (n = 16), histophilosis (n = 6), or bacterial encephalitis (n = 4), including 1 case of listeriosis, were collected and analyzed. Physical, biochemical (i.e., protein and glucose), and cellular analyses were performed in fresh samples. L-lactate, electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride), calcium, and magnesium concentrations were measured in CSF samples that were kept frozen. L-lactate concentrations were also measured in plasma. Analysis of variance was used for comparison between groups and receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed considering L-lactate in CSF of healthy versus encephalitic cattle. The CSF L-lactate concentration was significantly higher in cattle with bacterial encephalitis than in healthy cattle; however, it did not differ between viral and bacterial encephalitis. The calcium concentrations were lower in cattle with encephalitis. L-lactate concentration in CSF > 3.6 mmol/L can be accepted as a cut-off value to indicate encephalitis. Thus, L-lactate in CSF is important for the diagnosis of encephalitis in cattle. Despite the small number of cases of bacterial encephalitis, it is suggested that L-lactate was not important for the differentiation between viral and bacterial encephalitis. Additional studies with a greater number of observations are necessary to clarify this, specifically in cases of listeriosis.

Knowledge and attitudes about rabies in dog-bite victims in Bangladesh.

Rabies is an important zoonotic disease that causes several thousand deaths in Asian countries. Bangladesh launched an elimination programme in 2010 based on the mass vaccination of dogs, management of dog bites, application of post-exposure prophylaxis and communication and social mobilization. The aim of this study is to ascertain the behaviour of and knowledge about dog-bite victims. A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed on 885 dog-bite victims who presented themselves for post-exposure rabies vaccination to six randomly selected vaccination centers, in addition to a tertiary-level hospital in Bangladesh. Most dog-bite victims were male (70%) and with very low or no education qualifications (75%). Respondents’ knowledge of rabies was low: 58% were unaware of the consequences of a dog bite and 52% did not know about any indication of rabies. Most knew that rabies in humans can be prevented after dog bites, but up to 70% did not give a correct answer for other questions related to the prevention and treatment of rabies. Knowledge and attitudes about rabies is closely related to level of education. Finally, 58 of those surveyed (6.4%) did not complete the post-exposure prophylaxis correctly. In conclusion, knowledge about rabies among Bangladeshi citizens is low. An intensive plan to inform and educate people about dog bites, the risk of rabies and measures to adopt for preventing the disease should be implemented in order to reduce risk, including the need to complete post-exposure treatment.

A hundred years of rabies in Kenya and the strategy for eliminating dog-mediated rabies by 2030

Rabies causes an estimated 59,000 human deaths annually. In Kenya, rabies was first reported in a dog in 1912, with the first human case reported in 1928. Here we examine retrospective rabies data in Kenya for the period 1912 – 2017 and describe the spatial and temporal patterns of rabies occurrence in the country. Additionally, we detail Kenya’s strategy for the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies by 2030.Data on submitted samples and confirmed cases in humans, domestic animals and wildlife were obtained from Kenya’s Directorate of Veterinary Services. These data were associated with the geographical regions where the samples originated, and temporal and spatial trends examined.Between 1912 and the mid 1970’s, rabies spread across Kenya gradually, with fewer than 50 cases reported per year and less than half of the 47 counties affected. Following an outbreak in the mid 1970’s, rabies spread rapidly to more than 85% of counties, with a 4 fold increase in the percent positivity of samples submitted and number of confirmed rabies cases. Since 1958, 7,584 samples from domestic animals (93%), wildlife (5%), and humans (2%) were tested. Over two-thirds of all rabies cases came from six counties, all in close proximity to veterinary diagnostic laboratories, highlighting a limitation of passive surveillance.Compulsory annual dog vaccinations between 1950’s and the early 1970’s slowed rabies spread. The rapid spread with peak rabies cases in the 1980’s coincided with implementation of structural adjustment programs privatizing the veterinary sector leading to breakdown of rabies control programs. To eliminate human deaths from rabies by 2030, Kenya is implementing a 15-year step-wise strategy based on three pillars: a) mass dog vaccination, b) provision of post-exposure prophylaxis and public awareness and c) improved surveillance for rabies in dogs and humans with prompt responses to rabies outbreaks.

Infectious diseases in children and adolescents in China: analysis of national surveillance data from 2008 to 2017

To outline which infectious diseases in the pre-covid-19 era persist in children and adolescents in China and to describe recent trends and variations by age, sex, season, and province.National surveillance studies, 2008-17.31 provinces in mainland China.4 959 790 Chinese students aged 6 to 22 years with a diagnosis of any of 44 notifiable infectious diseases. The diseases were categorised into seven groups: quarantinable; vaccine preventable; gastrointestinal and enteroviral; vectorborne; zoonotic; bacterial; and sexually transmitted and bloodborne.Diagnosis of, and deaths from, 44 notifiable infectious diseases.From 2008 to 2017, 44 notifiable infectious diseases were diagnosed in 4 959 790 participants (3 045 905 males, 1 913 885 females) and there were 2532 deaths (1663 males, 869 females). The leading causes of death among infectious diseases shifted from rabies and tuberculosis to HIV/AIDS, particularly in males. Mortality from infectious diseases decreased steadily from 0.21 per 100 000 population in 2008 to 0.07 per 100 000 in 2017. Quarantinable conditions with high mortality have effectively disappeared. The incidence of notifiable infectious diseases in children and adolescents decreased from 280 per 100 000 in 2008 to 162 per 100 000 in 2015, but rose again to 242 per 100 000 in 2017, largely related to mumps and seasonal influenza. Excluding mumps and influenza, the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases fell from 96 per 100 000 in 2008 to 7 per 100 000 in 2017. The incidence of gastrointestinal and enterovirus diseases remained constant, but typhoid, paratyphoid, and dysentery continued to decline. Vectorborne diseases all declined, with a particularly noticeable reduction in malaria. Zoonotic infections remained at low incidence, but there were still unpredictable outbreaks, such as pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza. Tuberculosis remained the most common bacterial infection, although cases of scarlet fever doubled between 2008 and 2017. Sexually transmitted diseases and bloodborne infections increased significantly, particularly from 2011 to 2017, among which HIV/AIDS increased fivefold, particularly in males. Difference was noticeable between regions, with children and adolescents in western China continuing to carry a disproportionate burden from infectious diseases.China’s success in infectious disease control in the pre-covid-19 era was notable, with deaths due to infectious diseases in children and adolescents aged 6-22 years becoming rare. Many challenges remain around reducing regional inequalities, scaling-up of vaccination, prevention of further escalation of HIV/AIDS, renewed efforts for persisting diseases, and undertaking early and effective response to highly transmissible seasonal and unpredictable diseases such as that caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Rabies is one of the most dreadful diseases and a major viral zoonosis which has been shown to cause an almost 100% fatality rate in infected victims. It is characterized by acute progressive encephalitis, ganglioneuritis and parotid adenitis in mammals. This study determined the genotypic characteristics of rabies virus in dogs slaughtered for human consumption based on sequence of a fragment of nucleoprotein gene. Brain tissues were collected from 50 dogs slaughtered in Billiri and Kaltungo Local Government Areas of Gombe State, Nigeria. Direct fluorescent antibody test (DFAT) was used to screen for the presence of rabies virus antigen. Viral RNA isolated from DFAT positive brain tissues were subjected to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) followed by sequencing of the amplicons. Maximum Likelihood (ML) was used to construct a phylogenetic tree for sequences obtained with 1000 bootstrap replicates. The DFAT detected rabies antigen in 3 (6%) of the 50 dog brain tissues, from which 1 (2%) was positive by RT-PCR. ML phylogeny approach of the nucleotide sequences inferred members as originating lyssavirus genus and dog species. Essentially, MK234794 in this study displayed 99.3% sequence similarity with other related rabies viruses in the Africa 2 cluster (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger). Interestingly, MK234794 showed no cluster relation with the Africa 1a, 1b, 3 and Africa 4 clades, respectively. This indicates there is in-country and trans-boundary circulation of the rabies viruses with no co-circulation between the Africa lineages, especially as dogs are continuously being traded due to consumption of dog meat in West Africa. This finding has given additional insight into the molecular epidemiology of rabies virus in Nigeria, therefore providing more baseline information for future design of rabies control programs in the country.
Correction to: Sequence analysis of nucleoprotein gene reveals the co-circulation of lineages and sublineages of rabies virus in herbivorous in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil.

Discussion section, 9th paragraph.

A phylogenetic study of new rabies virus strains in different regions of Iran.

Rabies is the most critical zoonotic disease in Iran, which imposes many extra costs on health care system in each country. The present study aimed to determine the molecular characteristics of the wild circulating strains of the rabies virus (RABV) collected in Iran during 2015-2017. Rabies-suspected samples were collected from different regions of Iran and identified for RABV antigen confirmation using fluorescent antibody tests. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed on positive samples and gene sequencing was done on rabies nucleoprotein and glycoprotein genes to determine the rabies molecular characteristics. Accordingly, nine street RABVes were isolated. Then, N (802 bp) and G (735 bp) genes were amplified with specific primers.