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Molecular Epidemiology of Rabies Virus Isolates in Ethiopia

Asefa Deressa, Mahendra Pal, Yuki Kobayashi, Tesfu Kassa.


Rabies is a subject of public health concern in Ethiopia. The current rabies profile in Ethiopia shows 12 exposure cases/ 100,000 population and 1.6 rabies deaths /100,000 populations primarily because of canine rabies virus transmission exacerbated by uncontrolled stray dog population.The objective of this piece of work was to study the molecular epidemiology of rabies virus based on nucleotide sequence analysis of rabies virus (RABV) isolates originating from three selected Regional States of Ethiopia. Active surveillance of rabies suspected domestic animals that have demonstrated signs of encephalitis and abnormal behavioral change were subjected for Lyssavirus antigen detection using direct fluorescent antibody test (DFAT) positive and negative results. Ten DFAT positive brain samples comprising of three different animal species (Canine, Feline and Bovine) were sampled during 2013-2014 and subjected to reverse transcriptase PCR analysis.
Ten brain tissue samples were collected from a Northern Regional State and Central and Western Regions of Ethiopia. The nucleotide sequences of these samples were studied to obtain an understanding of the epidemiological relationships of the RABV isolates in the various Ethiopian geographical locations. All samples submitted were positive by RT-PCR and no samples were negative. Ten amplified cDNA samples were sequenced and the sequence data was phylogenetically analyzed as indicated in the phylogenetic tree with RABV isolates from other countries (Fig.1). These results also indicate the postal transportation of FTA card is workable for the quality preservation of RNA samples under the specific period in time.

Key words: Molecular epidemiology, Phylogenetic analysis, Public health, Rabies virus, Surveillance

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