Authored by: Jennifer S. Evans , Anthony R. Fooks , Ashley C. Banyard

Manual of Security Sensitive Microbes and Toxins

Print publication date:  April  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9781466553965
eBook ISBN: 9781466553989
Adobe ISBN:


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The lyssaviruses constitute an important group of viruses that are of significance to both human and animal health. All viruses within this genus are highly neurotropic and are capable of causing a fatal encephalitis, known as rabies. The prototypic lyssavirus is rabies virus (RABV), which is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected dog and causes a higher burden of disease in both humans and animals than any other lyssavirus. Indeed, the term “lyssa” is of Greek origin and is believed to refer to a “raging dog.” 1 Of the remaining lyssaviruses, all have been detected in bats with only two exceptions to this, Mokola virus (MOKV) and Ikoma lyssavirus (IKOV). Despite safe and effective prophylactic and postexposure tools being available, RABV remains endemic across much of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Members of the Lyssavirus genus are able to infect and cause disease in a very wide host range, with theoretically all mammalian species being susceptible to infection. Susceptibility to infection with these viruses does vary with several restrictions being hypothesized to contribute to incubation period, progression of disease, and overall outcome of infection including virus dose, infecting strain, immunocompetence of the host, and site of wound. Despite the availability of tools to control rabies infection, the presence of virus in sylvatic populations has made elimination in certain mammalian species difficult and eradication problematic. From a human perspective, variation in incubation period following infection can mean that appropriate prophylactic tools are not sought and fatalities occur as where clinical disease develops, infection with lyssaviruses is invariably fatal.

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