Geography but not alternative host species explain the spread of raccoon rabies virus in Vermont

Nadin-Davis, S.A., Fu, Q., Trewby, H., Biek, R. , Johnson, R.H. and Real, L. (2018) Geography but not alternative host species explain the spread of raccoon rabies virus in Vermont. Epidemiology and Infection, 146(15), pp. 1977-1986. (doi: 10.1017/s0950268818001759) (PMID:29941066) (PMCID:PMC6175641)

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In North America, the raccoon-associated variant of rabies virus (RRV) is of special concern, given its relatively rapid spread throughout the eastern USA and its potential public health impact due to high raccoon host densities in urban areas. Northward expansion of this epizootic included an outbreak in the Canadian province of Quebec in 2006–2009 due to trans-border spread from the State of Vermont. To inform a more proactive approach to future control efforts, this study uses phylogenetic analyses to explore the role of geography and alternative carnivore hosts in the dynamics of RRV spread within Vermont. Specifically, we sought to examine whether striped skunks, a species frequently infected by RRV, could be part of the maintenance host community. Whole genome sequencing of 160 RRV samples from Vermont and neighbouring US states were used for fine-scale phylogeographic analyses. Results, together with the complete surveillance record of raccoon rabies since its entry into Vermont in 1994, document incursions by two distinct viral lineages and identify topographical features of the landscape which have significantly influenced viral spread, resulting in a complex distribution pattern of viral variants throughout the state. Results of phylogenetic cluster analysis and discrete state reconstruction contained some evidence of skunk-to-skunk and skunk-to-raccoon transmission but overall failed to support a role for skunks as alternative maintenance hosts.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Epidemiology, infectious diseases.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Trewby, Dr Hannah and Biek, Professor Roman
Authors: Nadin-Davis, S.A., Fu, Q., Trewby, H., Biek, R., Johnson, R.H., and Real, L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Epidemiology and Infection
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-4409
Published Online:26 June 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Epidemiology and Infection 146(15): 1977-1986
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
473961Phylogeography and spatial dynamics of epidemic rabiesRoman BiekNational Institutes of Health (NIH)2 R01 AI047498-09A2RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED