Case Report

Utility of forensic detection of rabies virus in decomposed exhumed dog carcasses

Wanda Markotter, Jessica Coertse, Kevin le Roux, Joey Peens, Jacqueline Weyer, Lucille Blumberg, Louis H. Nel
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 86, No 1 | a1220 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v86i1.1220 | © 2015 Wanda Markotter, Jessica Coertse, Kevin le Roux, Joey Peens, Jacqueline Weyer, Lucille Blumberg, Louis H. Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2014 | Published: 18 May 2015

About the author(s)

Wanda Markotter, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Jessica Coertse, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Kevin le Roux, Allerton Provincial Veterinary Laboratory, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Joey Peens, State Veterinary Office, Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, South Africa
Jacqueline Weyer, Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Services, South Africa
Lucille Blumberg, Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Services, South Africa
Louis H. Nel, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This report describes four suspected rabies cases in domestic dogs that were involved inhuman exposures. In all these cases, the animals were buried for substantial times beforerabies testing was performed. Animal rabies is endemic in South Africa and domestic dogsare the main vector for transmission to humans. Diagnosis of rabies in humans is complicated,and diagnosis in the animal vector can provide circumstantial evidence to support clinicaldiagnosis of rabies in humans. The gold standard diagnostic method, fluorescent antibodytest (FAT), only delivers reliable results when performed on fresh brain material and thereforedecomposed samples are rarely submitted for diagnostic testing. Severely decomposed brainmaterial was tested for the presence of rabies virus genomic material using a quantitativereal-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (q-real-time RT-PCR) assaywhen conventional molecular methods were unsuccessful. This may be a useful tool in theinvestigation of cases where the opportunity to sample the suspected animals post mortem wasforfeited and which would not be possible with conventional testing methodologies becauseof the decomposition of the material.


Keywords

rabies; diagnosis; forensic; PCR

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