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Ten-year survey of British bats for the existence of rabies
  1. J. E. Whitby, PhD, BSc(Hons), BA1,
  2. P. Johnstone, PhD, BSc(Hons)1,
  3. G. Parsons1,
  4. A. A. King, ISO, PhD1

    retired

    and
  5. A. M. Hutson2
  1. 1 Virology Department, Central Veterinary Laboratory (Weybridge), New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  2. 2 Bat Conservation Trust, 15 Cloisters House, 8 Battersea Park Road, London SW8 4BG

Abstract

In 1985, a notable increase in the number of recorded cases of rabies in European bats was observed, indicating a possible spread of the rabies virus in these bats. Because of concern that the disease could be introduced into the United Kingdom by bats crossing from mainland Europe, a programme of screening dead bats for the presence of rabies and rabiesrelated viruses was initiated at the Rabies Research and Diagnostic Unit at the Central Veterinary Laboratory. Over a period of 10 years (January 1986 to December 1995), 1882 bats belonging to 23 species from all parts of England, Scotland and Wales have been screened for rabies antigen. All of these bats were found to be negative. Forty-one serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus), the species of bat most commonly infected in Europe, were included in the total. Subsequent to this survey, in June 1996, a European bat lyssavirus 2 was isolated from a Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii) in Newhaven, East Sussex. It is possible that this bat originated from mainland Europe but this cannot be established with certainty.

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