It is well-known that like most infectious diseases, rabies can attack several species.
However, which species are going to be infected and why turns out to be a difficult problem that represents a major gap in our knowledge of how diseases emerge. A paper just published in the journal Science
by a team of researchers led by Daniel G. Streicker, a PhD student at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, has begun to close that knowledge gap.
The paper, co-authored by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Western Michigan University, provides among the first estimates for any infectious disease of how often a disease can be transmitted across species in complex, multi-host communities and the likelihood of disease establishment in a new host species.
"Rabies happens to be an ideal system to answer these questions," said Streicker. "Rabies occurs across the country, affects many different host species and is known to mutate frequently." Although cases of rabies in humans are rare in the U.S., bats are the most common source of these infections, according to the CDC.