South African Journal of Science
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
The Duvenhage virus (DUVV) constitutes one of the 11 species in the Lyssavirus genus and causes fatal rabies encephalitis. The virus is associated with insectivorous bat species and three human cases have been reported, all of which were linked to contact with bats. Few of these isolates have been studied and thus little is known about the phylogeny and epidemiology of this lyssavirus. Until 2007, when an isolate was made from the East African country of Kenya, all isolations of this virus had been from southern Africa. This discovery led to many questions regarding the spread and diversity of this lyssavirus. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the DUVV isolates constitute two different lineages, in which the southern African isolates group together to form one lineage and the more recent isolate from Kenya constitutes a new, second lineage. We found that the new isolate has a genetic variation that has not yet been seen for DUVV. Not only is our lack of knowledge regarding the geographical distribution of this uniquely African virus emphasised, but we have also demonstrated the potential diversity within this genotype.