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Identifying ecological and epidemiological key factors for rabies dynamics and control in North Africa and implications for rabies status in South West Europe


Rabies is a serious public health concern in N.Afr. and its réintroduction to Western European countries presently free of rabies in non-flying animals represents a serious threat. This project will address a global multidisciplinary approach to draw a pre cise picture of the rabies epidemiology in N.Afr. by identifying and quantifying epidemiological, ecological, sociological and vaccinological key factors for rabies dynamics. Furthermore and despite that the Western European countries have almost completel y eliminated canine and vulpine rabies, they continue to declare some human and animal cases mostly imported from North Africa in addition to the presence of the disease in bats with some spillover to humans. Therefore the study of rabies in N.Afr. and Wes t Europe will determine the possible overlapping of rabies epidemiological cycles between the Western European and North African shores. Therefore baseline epidemiological data on human and animal rabies will be collected and analyzed by GIS in 4 N.African countries for the identification of rabies hyperactive areas. Factors which contribute tohuman post-exposure therapy failures will be identified. KAPsurveys will be addressed in order to weigh out key ethologie factors of dogs and the impact of human soci o-cultural perturbations and human behavior which may play a role in rabies dynamics and vaccination efficiency. Phylogenetic analysis will be carried out on rabies isolates collected from North Africa or of imported casesrecorded in 3 European countries b ordering the Mediterranean sea as well as bat lyssaviruses. We will try toelucidate whether lyssaviruses (rabies and rabies-related viruses) are circulating in bats in N.Africa. Circumstantial data indicating exchange of bats between Europe and Africa most likely harboring lyssaviruses. Therefore, we propose an ecological study of bat species in North Africa and Italy. All workpackages will lead to a coherent analysis of rabies epidemiology.

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