In southern Africa, isolates of rabies-related viruses (i.e. Duvenhage virus and Lagos bat virus) have been
made from insectivorous and frugivorous bats. As no recent formal bat virus survey has been reported
in southern Africa, a survey of bats in rabies-endemic areas was undertaken. Five hundred and forty seven
bats (13 species) were collected from 21 localities in the Orange Free State, Lesotho and the
northern Cape Province. None of the 190 bat sera tested using the "Trousse Platelia® Rage" ELISA kit
(Diagnostic Pasteur), had antibodies to rabies virus glycoprotein G. Rabies virus nucleocapsid antigen was
also sought for in the brains of 530 bats (13 species) by means of the "Rapid rabies enzyme immunodiagnosis"
(RREID)® test (Diagnostics Pasteur) . No positive results were obtained. These results show
that bats are unlikely to play an important role as hosts of rabies in these parts of Africa, although a low
rate of infection cannot be excluded.
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