Spatial and temporal trends of bat-borne rabies in Chile

L. E. Escobar, O. Restif, V. Yung, M. Favi, D. J. Pons, G. Medina-Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In Chile, while dog rabies has decreased markedly over the last 30 years, bat rabies is still reported frequently. In order to shed new light on the spatiotemporal trends of these reports, we analysed active and passive data from years 1985 and 2012, which included 61 076 samples from 289 counties of Chile. We found that from 1994 to 2012, more than 15 000 bat samples were submitted for diagnostics through passive surveillance, 9·5% of which tested positive for rabies. By contrast, the prevalence of infection was only ∼0·4% among the nearly 12 000 bat samples submitted through active surveillance. We found that the prevalence of dog rabies dropped steadily over the same period, with just a single confirmed case since 1998. None of the 928 samples from wild animals, other than bats, were positive for rabies. Although there has been only one confirmed case of human rabies in Chile since 1985, and a single confirmed case in a dog since 1998, bats remain a reservoir for rabies viruses. While active surveillance indicates that rabies prevalence is low in bat colonies, the high proportion of positive bats submitted through passive surveillance is a concern. To prevent human rabies, local public health agencies should increase research on the basic ecology of bats and the role of stray dogs and cats as potential rabies amplifiers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1486-1494
Number of pages9
JournalEpidemiology and infection
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 6 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Cambridge University Press.


  • Bat-borne
  • disease
  • rabies
  • re-emergent
  • urban


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