BACKGROUND: A panel of 37 rabies virus isolates were collected and studied, originating mainly
from the northern and central regions of Namibia, between 1980 and 2003.
RESULTS: These virus isolates demonstrated a high degree of genetic similarity with respect to a
400 bp region of the nucleoprotein gene, with the virus isolates originating from kudu antelope (n
= 10) sharing 97.2–100% similarity with jackal isolates, and 97–100% similarity with those isolated from domestic dogs. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that these viruses were all of the canid rabies biotype of southern Africa. The viruses from kudu were closely associated with jackal isolates (n = 6), bat-eared fox isolates (n = 2) and domestic dog isolates (n = 2) at the genetic level and identical at the amino acid level, irrespective of the year of isolation.
CONCLUSION: These data suggest that jackal and kudu may form part of the same epidemiological
cycle of rabies in Namibian wildlife, and might demonstrate the close-relationship between rabies
virus strains that circulate within Namibia and those that circulate between Namibia and its
neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa.