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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


MARKOTTER, Wanda et al. Utility of forensic detection of rabies virus in decomposed exhumed dog carcasses. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2015, vol.86, n.1, pp.01-05. ISSN 2224-9435.

This report describes four suspected rabies cases in domestic dogs that were involved in human exposures. In all these cases, the animals were buried for substantial times before rabies testing was performed. Animal rabies is endemic in South Africa and domestic dogs are 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 clinical diagnosis of rabies in humans. The gold standard diagnostic method, fluorescent antibody test (FAT), only delivers reliable results when performed on fresh brain material and therefore decomposed samples are rarely submitted for diagnostic testing. Severely decomposed brain material was tested for the presence of rabies virus genomic material using a quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (q-real-time RT-PCR) assay when conventional molecular methods were unsuccessful. This may be a useful tool in the investigation of cases where the opportunity to sample the suspected animals post mortem was forfeited and which would not be possible with conventional testing methodologies because of the decomposition of the material.

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