Rabies in kudu is unique to Namibia and two major peaks in the epizootic have occurred since it was first noted in 1977.
Due to the large numbers of kudu that were affected, it was suspected that horizontal transmission of rabies occurs among
kudu and that rabies was being maintained independently within the Namibian kudu population – separate from canid
cycles, despite geographic overlap. In this study, it was our aim to show, through phylogenetic analyses, that rabies was
being maintained independently within the Namibian kudu population. We also tested, through complete genome
sequencing of four rabies virus isolates from jackal and kudu, whether specific mutations occurred in the virus genome due
to host adaptation. We found the separate grouping of all rabies isolates from kudu to those of any other canid species in
Namibia, suggesting that rabies was being maintained independently in kudu. Additionally, we noted several mutations
unique to isolates from kudu, suggesting that these mutations may be due to the adaptation of rabies to a new host. In
conclusion, we show clear evidence that rabies is being maintained independently in the Namibian kudu population – a
unique phenomenon with ecological and economic impacts.