In Finland a new bat lyssavirus named Kotalahti bat lyssavirus

15.3.2018 09:04

In the summer of 2017, a lyssavirus that had not been previously detected was discovered in a Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii), found dead in Kotalahti in Leppävirta. The discovery was also rare because lyssavirus had not been found in Brandt's bats before in any country.

"This means that the virus has not been previously identified. It is not of the same type as the bat lyssaviruses found in Daubenton's bats in Inkoo and the Turku region," says Special Researcher Tiina Nokireki, DVM (PhD), from the Virology Research Unit of Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.

According to its specific place of discovery, the virus was named the Kotalahti bat lyssavirus (KBLV). It is closely related to the Khujand virus, the Aravan virus, the Bokeloh bat lyssavirus and the EBLV-2 viruses.

According to its specific location of discovery, the virus was named the Kotalahti bat lyssavirus (KBLV).

It was not possible to isolate the virus from the bat in question, because it was already in a state of decomposition when found. So far, only genetic material of the virus is available. This lyssavirus could only be officially approved as a new species if more information about it could be gained.

The risk of contracting rabies from a bat is small

Lyssavirus infection is rare in bats, and it can only be transmitted to humans in exceptional circumstances.

"Many lyssaviruses can still cause a rabies-like disease in humans. People who do not come into contact with bats due to their work or hobbies have an extremely low risk of being infected by lyssavirus from a bat", Nokireki says.

Previously, EBLV-2 type virus has been found in Daubenton's bats in Finland in the Turku region in 2009 and in Inkoo in 2016.

An article about the Kotalahti bat lyssavirus discovered has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal
Nokireki, T., Tammiranta, N., Kokkonen, U.-M., Kantala, T., Gadd, T.
Tentative novel lyssavirus in a bat in Finland 2018. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 2018.

Leave bats alone and vaccinate cats and dogs

Never touch a bat with your bare hands. People who have come in contact with a bat should always see a doctor, unless it is certain that handling the bat did not result in a bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure.

If you suspect that the bat may have rabies, you must contact the local municipal veterinarian. Dead bats must be sent to Evira's Helsinki office for rabies testing. It is requested that bats from the Leppävirta area in particular would be sent.

Bats are protected under the Nature Conservation Act.

Vaccinating hunting dogs and the service dogs of authorities against rabies is mandatory. However, Evira recommends vaccinating all dogs and cats against rabies regularly.

Further information:
Laboratory Manager Tiina Nokireki, Specialist in Veterinary Medicine, tel. +358 50 4131687

 

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