European bat lyssaviruses - an ecological enigma
The first European case of bat rabies was reported in 1954. Since then, more than 800 cases have been confirmed from 13 countries. The causative agents are European Bat Lyssavirus Type-1 (EBLV-1) and Type-2 (EBLV-2). The natural host of EBLV-1 seems to be the serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) with more than 95% of all cases reported in this species. Although much fewer EBLV-2 cases have been identified, it seems that Myotis dasycneme and M. daubentonii are likely to be the principal hosts’ species for this virus. The ecological mechanisms underlying the transmission of EBLV-1 and EBLV-2 are still poorly understood. In order to assess the public health risks associated with EBLVs and the implications for bat conservation, some issues need urgent clarification. In this review some of the most pressing topics will be addressed. Only collaboration between a range of disciplines that include virologists, epidemiologists and bat conservationists will be able to elucidate some of these unanswered questions.