TWiV 311: Bulldogs go viral

On episode #311 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent visits the University of Georgia where he speaks with Zhen Fu and Biao He about their work on rabies virus and paramyxoviruses.

You can find TWiV #311, audio and video versions, at www.microbe.tv/twiv.

TWiV 264: We should do an all-email show some day

On episode #264 of the science show This Week in Virology, the TWiVites read listener questions and comments about public engagement in science, vaccines, RNAi, reprogramming CD8 cells to treat cancer, rabies, and much more.

You can find TWiV #264 at www.microbe.tv/twiv.

TWiV 215: Illuminating rabies and unwrapping a SARI

On episode #215 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent, Alan, and Kathy review the finding that rabies virus infection alters but does not kill neurons, and provide an update on the novel coronavirus in the Middle East.

You can find TWiV #215 at www.microbe.tv/twiv.

TWiV 201: Rabid about viruses

On episode #201 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent, Alan, Rich, Dickson, and Kathy answer reader email about rabies, xenotransplantation, poliovirus, Ph.D. programs, mosquitoes, and much more.

You can find TWiV #201 at www.microbe.tv/twiv.

How lethal is rabies virus?

Desmodus rotundusWhen I am asked to name the most lethal human virus, I never hesitate to name rabies virus. Infection with this virus is almost invariably fatal; just three unvaccinated individuals have been known to survive. New evidence from humans in the Peruvian Amazon suggests that the virus might be less lethal than previously believed.

Rabies virus is typically transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mammal, often a carnivore or a bat. Recently there have been numerous outbreaks of rabies in Peru that have been linked to bites of vampire bats. A study of two communities at risk for vampire bat bites was undertaken to determine whether subclinical infection with rabies virus might occur. Over half of 92 individuals interviewed reported having been bitten by bats. Neutralizing antibodies against rabies virus were detected in 7 of 63 serum samples obtained from this population. Antibodies against the viral nucleoprotein were found in three individuals, two of whom were also positive for viral neutralizing antibodies. All 9 seropositive individuals indicated that they had previously had contact with a bat (a bite, scratch, or direct contact with unprotected skin). One of these individuals had previously received rabies vaccine.

The finding of neutralizing antibodies against rabies virus suggests that these individuals were likely infected, but did not develop fatal disease. It is also possible that they received a sufficiently large dose of virus to induce antibodies, but that viral replication did not occur. Another explanation for the findings is that these individuals were infected with an unknown virus that is highly related to rabies virus, but which is not pathogenic for humans.

There have been numerous seroprevalence studies of rabies infection in wildlife. For example, foxes and other canids have low (0-5%) seroprevalence rates, while 5-50% of bats can harbor rabies neutralizing antibodies, indicating that these animals are less susceptible to fatal rabies. In contrast, there have been few studies on rabies seroprevalence in humans. In one study of 30 raccoon hunters in Florida, low levels of rabies virus neutralizing antibodies were found in 2 samples. Low neutralizing antibody titers were also detected in 9 of 31 Canadian Inuit hunters; in a separate study, high rabies antibody titers were detected in the serum of 1 of 26 Alaskan fox trappers. All of these individuals had not been immunized with rabies virus vaccine.

Rabies virus causes 55,000 human deaths each year, so even if the results of the Peruvian study indicate subclinical infection, they would have little impact on the nearly 100% fatality rate associated with infection. More extensive studies are needed to determine if nonfatal human rabies infection is more common than believed. Understanding why some individuals do not die after infection might reveal immunological and genetic factors that protect against the disease.

Amy T. Gilbert, Brett W. Petersen, Sergio Recuenco, Michael Niezgoda, Jorge Gómez, V. Alberto Laguna-Torres and Charles Rupprecht. Evidence of Rabies Virus Exposure among Humans in the Peruvian Amazon. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 87:206 (2012).

Related:

How lethal is ebolavirus?

Should we fear avian H5N1 influenza?

TWiV 153: Rabid reindeer and protective prions

svalbardHosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

Vincent, Alan, and Rich review an outbreak of rabies in arctic foxes and reindeer in Norway, and a prion that makes you go antiviral.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV 153 (55 MB .mp3, 92 minutes).

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Alan – Amoebas microscope drive 2011
Vincent – WolframAlpha
Rich – Genesis by Ramos David (YouTube)

Listener Pick of the Week

BillVirolution by Frank Ryan

Send your virology questions and comments (email or mp3 file) to twiv@microbe.tv, or call them in to 908-312-0760. You can also post articles that you would like us to discuss at microbeworld.org and tag them with twiv.

TWiV 102: Catch me if you can in Munich

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Andrew BakerKarl-Klaus ConzelmannPeter Palese, and Katharina Eisenächer

Episode #102 of the podcast This Week in Virology is a conversation about the RNA sensor RIG-I, adenovirus gene therapy, a universal influenza vaccine, and rabies virus, recorded in Munich, Germany at the SFB455 symposium ‘Viral offense and immune defense’.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #102 (67 MB .mp3, 95 minutes)

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Katharina – Deutsches Museum
Vincent – HHMI holiday lectures on science (thanks Judi!)

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TWiV 98: Murine musings, electric shirts, and rabid pathologists

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

On episode 98 of the podcast This Week in Virology, Vincent, Alan, and Rich review the finding of murine leukemia virus-related sequences in the blood of CFS patients and healthy donors, laboratory inventories for wild poliovirus containment, weaving high-performance viral batteries into fabric for the military, and a case of human rabies in Indiana.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #98 (58 MB .mp3, 80 minutes)

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Alan – NCBI ROFL
Rich –
The Great Bridge by David McCullough
Vincent – Dr. Rous’ Prize-Winning Chicken

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TWiV 75: Rabies rampant

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Matthew Frieman

Vincent, Alan, and Matt review contamination of Rotarix with circovirus DNA, antigenic similarity between 1918 and 2009 H1N1 influenza, a collection of rabies reports, and chicken pox mistaken for smallpox in Uganda.

This episode is sponsored by Data Robotics Inc. Use the promotion code VINCENT to receive $50 off a Drobo or $100 off a Drobo S.

Win a free Drobo S! Contest rules here.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #75 (57 MB .mp3, 79 minutes)

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Matt Bitesize Bio
Alan Free printable graph paper (see also doane paper)
Vincent Avian Flu Diary

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TWiV 65: Matt’s bats

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Matthew Frieman

Vincent, Alan, and Matt discuss a project to study the RNA virome of Northeastern American bats, failure to detect XMRV in UK chronic fatigue syndrome patients, and DNA of bornavirus, an RNA virus, in mammalian genomes.

This episode is sponsored by Data Robotics Inc. To receive $50 off a Drobo or $100 off a Drobo S, visit drobostore.com and use the promotion code VINCENT.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #65 (58 MB .mp3, 80 minutes)

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks
Matt 100 Incredible lectures from the world’s top scientists
Alan The Amateur Scientist CD
Vincent The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Send your virology questions and comments (email or mp3 file) to twiv@microbe.tv or leave voicemail at Skype: twivpodcast. You can also post articles that you would like us to discuss at microbeworld.org and tag them with twiv.