The lyssavirus host-specificity conundrum - rabies virus - the exception not the rule
Lyssaviruses are a diverse range of viruses which all cause the disease rabies. Of the 16 recognized species, only rabies viruses (RABV) have multiple host reservoirs. Although lyssaviruses are capable of infecting all mammals, onward transmission in a new host population requires adaptation of the virus, in a number of stages with both host and virus factors determining the outcome. Due to an absence of recorded non-RABV host shifts, RABV data is extrapolated to draw conclusions for all lyssaviruses. In this article, we have focused on evidence of host shifts in the same insectivorous bat reservoir species in North America (RABV) and Europe (EBLV-1, EBLV-2 and BBLV). How RABV has successfully crossed species barriers and established infectious cycles in new hosts to be the global multi-host pathogen it is today, whilst other lyssaviruses appear restricted in host species is explored in this review. It hypothesized that RABV is the exception, rather than the rule, in this fascinating genus of viruses.