This paper reviews recent studies on the biology, systematics and population genetics of yellow mongoose
populations in terms of possible implications for the epidemiology of rabies. Based on parallel
studies, the existence of three distinct subspecies of yellow mongoose may have a direct bearing on
rabies epidemiology; at least subspecific affiliation should be considered as a factor to be controlled
for in rabies studies of the species. A direct correlation was found to exist between population genetics,
social structure (and vagility) and aspects of the epidemiology of rabies in the yellow mongoose. The
high frequency of enzyme polymorphisms restricted to single populations can be understood in terms
of the well developed social structure and low vagility of yellow mongooses, which in turn explains the
phenomenon of rabies outbreaks being restricted to highly localized foci which may flare up over a period
of several years. Further research is required to establish whether predictable population genetic
differences exist between high and low rabies-prone populations.
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