Epidemiology and Infection

Brief Report

CARRIERS, STORAGE & TRANSFORMATION

First encounter of European bat lyssavirus type 2 (EBLV-2) in a bat in Finland

M. JAKAVA-VILJANENa1 c1, T. LILLEYa2, E.-M. KYHERÖINENa3 and A. HUOVILAINENa1

a1 Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Helsinki, Finland

a2 Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, Finland

a3 Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Finland

SUMMARY

In Finland, rabies in bats was suspected for the first time in 1985 when a bat researcher, who had multiple bat bites, died in Helsinki. The virus isolated from the researcher proved to be antigenically related to rabies viruses previously detected in German bats. Later, the virus was typed as EBLV-2b. Despite an epidemiological study in bats 1986 and subsequent rabies surveillance, rabies in bats was not detected in Finland until the first case in a Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii) was confirmed in August 2009. The bat was paralysed, occasionally crying, and biting when approached; it subsequently tested positive for rabies. The virus was genetically typed as EBLV-2. This is the northernmost case of bat rabies ever detected in Europe. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the EBLV-2b isolate from the human case in 1985 and the isolate from the bat in 2009 were genetically closely related, demonstrating that EBLV-2 may have been circulating in Finland for many years.

(Accepted January 19 2010)

(Online publication March 03 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr M. Jakava-Viljanen, Finnish Food Safety Authority – Evira, Mustialankatu 3, FI-00790 Helsinki, Finland. (Email: miia.jakava-viljanen@evira.fi)

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