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Rabies Virus, Molecular Detection

Rabies molecular testing is used for rapid and accurate laboratory documentation of the disease.

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Rabies virus is a neurotropic virus that causes fatal rabies disease in humans and animals. The rabies virus is a member of the genus Lyssavirus of the family Rhabdoviridae. The virus exists in the animal population in almost every country in the world. Dogs are the main host in most parts of the world, but in some countries in Europe, the virus is thought to be found only among the bat population. The virus has a linear, single-stranded (negative polarity) RNA genome approximately 12 kb in length, which is located as a complex ribonucleoprotein. The viral genome contains five genes: nucleoprotein N, phosphoprotein P, matrix protein M, glycoprotein G, and viral RNA polymerase. Rabies virus has helical symmetry, about 180 nm in length and about 75 nm in diameter, although human infecting viruses often have cubic symmetry.

Rabies is a serious viral disease that causes acute encephalitis. It is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted from infected animals to humans. Most mammals can carry the rabies virus, but the majority of cases are the result of being bitten by an infected dog. Once the host is infected, the virus spreads to the brain through the nervous system. Glycoprotein G mediates the binding and entry of the virus into the host cells. The membrane fusion then allows the viral genome to enter the cytoplasm and initiate transcription of the viral genome. Later in the course of infection, the activity of the polymerase is activated to produce positive polarity RNA copies, which are used as templates to generate novel negative polarity, RNA genomes. The RNA chains are packaged together with the N protein to form a ribonucleoprotein that can then form new viruses. The rabies virus travels quickly along the nerve pathways to the central nervous system before it spreads to other organs.

The clinical symptoms of the infection include numbness in the bite area, high fever, hydrophobia, and hallucinations. It may take 2-12 weeks for the initial flu symptoms to be followed by mild or partial paralysis, cerebral dysfunction, stress, insomnia, confusion, arousal, abnormal behavior, paranoia, tremors, and hallucinations. The production of large quantities of saliva and tears, combined with the inability to speak and swallow, are typically present in the late stages of the disease.

There are currently no effective treatments for rabies, and therefore the only effective solution is to prevent the spread of the rabies virus from entering the brain and nervous system. This is performed by cleansing the wound and administering rabies vaccine and anti-rabies immunoglobulin.

Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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