Rabies virus is the prototype member of the genus Lyssavirus, of the family Rhabdoviridae, order Mononegavirales.6 Members of this order have a nonsegmented, negative-stranded RNA genome that is tightly encapsulated into ribonucleocapsid structures. Members of the family Rhabdoviridae are grouped on the basis of their conical or bullet shape as visualized by electron microscopy. Their host range includes vertebrates (primarily mammals and fish), invertebrates (primarily arthropods), and plants. The Rhabdoviridae that infect animals and humans are divided into two genera, the Lyssavirus (Greek Lyssa, frenzy) and Vesiculovirus (Latin vesicula, little bladder).3 Vesiculoviruses (e.g., vesicular stomatitis virus) cause disease in cattle, swine, horses, and a variety of other vertebrates. 3 Humans occasionally develop infection, which is most commonly characterized by a nonfatal, nonspecific influenza-like viral syndrome.
The rabies group of Lyssavirus is comprised of six serotypes, or genotypes, and includes classic rabies virus, Lagos bat virus, Mokola virus, Duvenhage virus, European bat lyssavirus 1, and European bat lyssavirus 2.6 Rarely have lyssaviruses other than rabies caused human disease (<10 total cases described worldwide).
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