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Australian bat lyssavirus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Rhabdoviridae
Genus: Lyssavirus
Species: Australian bat lyssavirus

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) (initially named pteropid lyssavirus PLV) is a zoonotic virus closely related to rabies virus. It was first identified in a 5-month old juvenile Black flying fox (Pteropus alecto) collected near Ballina in northern New South Wales, Australia in 1996 during a national surveillance program for the recently identified Hendra virus. ABLV is the seventh member of the lyssavirus genus (which includes rabies virus) and the only one present in Australia.

ABLV is distributed throughout Australia in a variety of bat species which are believed to be the primary reservoir for the virus. Two strains of the virus exist, one occurring in insectivorous bats and the other in fruit bats.

ABLV has caused two human deaths. The first occurred in November 1996 when an animal carer was scratched by a yellow-bellied sheathtailed bat. Onset of a rabies-like illness occurred 4–5 weeks following the incident, with death twenty days later. ABLV was identified from brain tissue by PCR and immunohistochemistry.

In August 1996, a woman in Queensland was bitten on the finger by a flying fox while attempting to remove it from a child it had landed on. Six months later, following heightened public attention from the first ABLV death, she consulted a GP regarding testing for the virus. Post exposure treatment was advised but declined. After a 27 month incubation a rabies-like illness developed. The condition worsened after hospital admission and she died 19 days after the onset of illness.

The first day the woman was hospitalised "[c]erebrospinal fluid (CSF), serum and saliva were submitted for testing"[1]. On the fourth day of her hospital admission these tests were returned results of "probably ABL infection". Post-mortem tests were all "strongly positive" for ABL. The length of incubation is unusual as classical rabies has typical incubation periods of less than 90 days.

Rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin are effective in prophylactic and therapeutic protection from ABLV infection. Since the emergence of the virus, rabies vaccine is administered to individuals with a heightened risk of exposure and vaccine and immunoglobulin are provided for post exposure treatment.

ABLV is one of four zoonotic viruses discovered in Pteropid bats since 1994, the others being Hendra virus, Nipah virus and Menangle virus. Of these, ABLV is the only virus known to be transmissible to humans directly from bats without an intermediate host.

References

  1. ^ Hanna JN, Carney IK, Smith GA, et al. (2000). "Australian bat lyssavirus infection: a second human case, with a long incubation period". Med. J. Aust. 172 (12): 597–9. PMID 10914106. http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/172_12_190600/hanna/hanna.html.

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