Analysis of rabies diagnosis in dogs and cats in the state of São Paulo, Brazil
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The genetic lineage of rabies virus (RABV) associated with dogs has not been found in the state of São Paulo since 1998, and all cases of rabies in domestic animals reported since then have involved the RABV lineage that circulates in bats. As there has been a change in the rabies transmission cycle in cats and dogs, we decided to analyze the tests used to diagnose rabies in these animals in the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016 in the state of São Paulo. During this period, 85,508 central nervous system (CNS) samples from dogs and cats were submitted to the Rabies Diagnosis Section at the Pasteur Institute of São Paulo for testing. All of the samples were tested by the fluorescent antibody test (FAT) and at least one of the following three tests: mouse inoculation test (MIT), rabies tissue culture infection test (RTCIT) and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Of all the samples tested, twenty were positive in at least one of these assays. Four other positive samples were identified at other institutions in the state of São Paulo. Of the twenty samples that tested positive at the Pasteur Institute of São Paulo, nine were tested by FAT, and the results were subsequently confirmed by other techniques; five gave inconclusive results, and therefore, other techniques had to be used as soon as possible in case the samples were positive; and six were negative by FAT and positive by one or more of the following tests: RTCIT, MIT and RT-PCR. Genetic typing of isolates from eighteen samples identified them as the lineage circulating in bats. In light of this finding, which indicates that genetic lineages associated with bats are circulating in domestic animals in the state of São Paulo, when the results of FAT carried out with samples from aggressive cats and dogs are inconclusive, complementary tests should be used. Decomposing samples and samples for which FAT was inconclusive should be tested using molecular techniques so that a definitive result can be obtained quickly and timely post-exposure prophylaxis can be administered to exposed individuals.
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was funded by Instituto Pasteur.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
This study is a retrospective analysis of the diagnosis of rabies in which viral isolation in mice is one of the techniques recommended by the World Health Organization. The Pasteur Institute is the reference center for the diagnosis of rabies in Brazil, and all samples that are referred for diagnosis are subjected to these techniques that were analyzed in the study. Therefore, both the animal samples received and the laboratory animals used are part of the laboratory diagnosis routine for rabies. Thus, since this is not a study linked to a research project but an analysis of the diagnostic tests, there is no opinion of the ethics committee of the institution. The laboratory animals used routinely for the diagnosis of rabies are maintained according to federal legislation.
This study did not include human samples, so there was no need for an ethics committee opinion.
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