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Title: The emergence of vampire bat rabies in Uruguay within a historical context

Abstract Pathogen spillover from wildlife to humans or domestic animals requires a series of conditions to align with space and time. Comparing these conditions between times and locations where spillover does and does not occur presents opportunities to understand the factors that shape spillover risk. Bovine rabies transmitted by vampire bats was first confirmed in 1911 and has since been detected across the distribution of vampire bats. However, Uruguay is an exception. Uruguay was free of bovine rabies until 2007, despite high-cattle densities, the presence of vampire bats and a strong surveillance system. To explore why Uruguay was free of bovine rabies until recently, we review the historic literature and reconstruct the conditions that would allow rabies invasion into Uruguay. We used available historical records on the abundance of livestock and wildlife, the vampire bat distribution and occurrence of rabies outbreaks, as well as environmental modifications, to propose four alternative hypotheses to explain rabies virus emergence and spillover: bat movement, viral invasion, surveillance failure and environmental changes. While future statistical modelling efforts will be required to disentangle these hypotheses, we here show how a detailed historical analysis can be used to generate testable predictions for the conditions leading to pathogen more » spillover. « less
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Epidemiology and Infection
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation