Rabies: Animal Reservoirs of an Ancient Disease
Rabies is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind and continues to pose a threat to human and animal health. Of relevance to this book, animals are always the source of infection in humans. There is no evidence for human-to-human transmission. Any changes in the biology or distribution of a rabies reservoir species, which reside primarily in the orders Chiroptera and Carnivora, not only lead to opportunities for human infection with rabies virus but also influence changes in virus evolution, spread and diversity. Fundamental changes in human sociocultural evolution and population growth, together with related activities, including the domestication of dogs in particular, have substantially contributed to the spread of rabies virus and influenced the present-day global distribution of the disease. This distribution is in constant flux as other factors such as the translocation of animals, urbanization, and climate change affect transmission rates or lead to additional spread of the disease. This chapter discusses the wide variety of animal vectors of rabies virus and the factors that lead to contact with human populations.