Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-19-2020

Document Type



Herbers, M. 2020. Phylogenetic Relationships and Ecology of Rabies in Nebraska Bats. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Melanie Herbers 2020.


As a mammalian zoonosis, rabies is particularly difficult to control within bat reservoirs due to their aerial nature along with the host-adapted relationship between rabies and bats. Additionally, the decreased virulence of rabies in bats has allowed for diversification of the virus, thus allowing spillover events from bats to other mammals. In addition to examining the prevalence and locations of rabies in Nebraska bats this study used N-gene sequences of 33 rabies viruses from Nebraska bats submitted to the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center (NVDC) in order to determine phylogenetic relationships between the strains isolated. It was determined that the prevalence of rabies in submitted Nebraska bats decreased from 1.71% in 2018 to 1.56% in 2019, and three main strain types are circulating throughout the state. These included Eptesicus fuscus strains as the most abundant type, Lasiurus genus type strains, and an Urocyon cinereoargenteus strain. Rabies was primarily detected from samples originating in Southeastern Nebraska and detection is thought to be associated with areas of high human populations.