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Classification

Rabies is caused by negative strand RNA-viruses belonging to the genus Lyssavirus, family Rhabdoviridae of the order Mononegavirales. According to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) the genus Lyssavirus is delineated into different virus species based on demarcation criteria such as genetic distance and antigenic patterns in reactions with panels of antinucleocapsid monoclonal antibodies. This demarcation is further supported by geographic distribution and host range (see table).

Lyssavirus species segregate into two phylogroups. Phylogroup 1 includes Rabies virus (RABV), Duvenhage virus (DUVV), European bat lyssaviruses, type 1 and 2 (EBLV-1 and 2, respectively), and Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV). Also, Aravan virus (ARAV), Khujand virus (KHUV), and Irkut virus (IRKV) cross-react serologically with members of phylogroup 1. Phylogroup 2 includes Lagos bat virus (LBV), Mokola virus (MOKV), and Shimoni bat virus (SHIBV). There is a significant serological neutralization within phylogroups, but very limited crossneutralization has been detected between phylogroups.

West Caucasian bat virus (WCBV), Ikoma lyssavirus (IKOV) and Lleida bat lyssavirus (LLBV) may form independent phylogroups.

Rabies virus (RABV), the prototype lyssavirus, is the causative agent of the classical rabies and is responsible for the vast majority of all human rabies cases. However, it can be assumed that all lyssaviruses can cause indistinguishable fatal encephalitis both in humans and other mammals.

Interestingly, bats are primary or sole reservoir hosts for all lyssaviruses except MOKV (for which the reservoir species has not been clearly identified as of yet).


 

Current diversity and taxonomy of lyssaviruses

Species (ICTV)a

Abbreviation

Potential vector(s)/reservoirs

Distribution

 Rabies virus

RABV

Carnivores (worldwide); bats
(Americas) 

Worldwide
(except several islands)

Lagos bat virus

LBV

Frugivorous bats (Megachiroptera)

Africa

Mokola virus

MOKV

?

Sub-Saharan Africa

Duvenhage virus

DUVV

Insectivorous bats

Southern Africa

European bat lyssavirus 1

EBLV-1

Insectivorous bats
(Eptesicus serotinus)

Europe

European bat lyssavirus 2

EBLV-2

Insectivorous bats
(Myotis daubentonii, M. dasycneme)

Europe

Australian bat lyssavirus

ABLV

Frugivorous/insectivorous bats
(Megachiroptera/Microchiroptera

Australia

Aravan virus

ARAV

Insectivorous bats

(Myotis blythi)

Central Asia

Khujand virus

KHUV

Insectivorous bats

(Myotis mystacinus)

Central Asia

Irkut virus

IRKV

Insectivorous bats

(Murina leucogaster)

East Siberia

West Caucasian bat virus

WCBV

Insectivorous bats

(Miniopterus schreibersi)

Caucasian region

Shimoni bat virus

SHIBV

Hipposideros commersoni

East Africa

Bokeloh bat lyssavirus BBLV

Insectivorous bats

Myotis nattereri
Europe
Ikoma virus IKOV ? (isolated from Civettictis civetta) Africa

Lleida bat lyssavirus#

LLBV

Insectivorous bats

(Miniopterus schreibersi)

Europe

(Spain)

 a ICTV = International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (www.ictvonline.org/)

#Arechiga Ceballos et. al., 2012; so far, only viral genomic material was identified which is not sufficient for declaration of a novel species

 

 

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