U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Rupprecht, C.E.; Van Pelt, L.I.; Davis, A.D.; Chipman, R.B.; Bergman, D.L. Use of a Direct, Rapid Immunohistochemical Test for Diagnosis of Rabies Virus in Bats. Zoonotic Dis. 2022, 2, 1–8. https:// doi.org/10.3390/zoonoticdis2010001


U.S. government work


Rabies, a zoonotic encephalitis due to transmission of a lyssavirus, such as rabies virus (RABV), has the highest case fatality of any infectious disease. A global program for the elimination of human rabies caused by dogs is proposed for realization by 2030. Sensitive, specific, and inexpensive diagnostic tests are necessary for enhanced surveillance to detect infection, inform public health and veterinary professionals during risk assessments of exposure, and support overall programmatic goals. Multiple laboratory techniques are used to confirm a suspect case of rabies. One method for the detection of lyssavirus antigens within the brain is the direct rapid immunohistochemical test (dRIT), using light microscopy, and suitable for use under field conditions. Besides dogs, other major RABV reservoirs reside among mammalian mesocarnivores and bats. To date, use of the dRIT has been applied primarily for the diagnosis of RABV in suspect mesocarnivores. The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of the dRIT to the diagnosis of rabies in bats, compared to the gold-standard, the direct fluorescent antibody test (DFAT). Brains of 264 suspect bats, consisting of 21 species from Arizona and Texas, were used in the evaluation of the dRIT. The overall sensitivity of the dRIT was 100% (0.969–1.0, 95% CI) and the specificity was 94.6% (0.896–0.976, 95% CI), comparable to the DFAT. This preliminary study demonstrated the utility of the dRIT in the confirmation of RABV infection in bats. Future studies should include additional geographic, lyssavirus, and mammalian species representations for broader application during enhanced rabies surveillance, with incorporation of any potential adjustments to standard protocols, as needed.