Immunohistochemical study of rabies virus within the central nervous system of domestic and wildlife species. Academic Article uri icon


  • Immunohistochemistry using a commercial polyclonal antibody for lyssavirus was applied to 39 archival cases of rabies. Paraffin blocks from 13 different species were available, including 3 dogs, 4 cats, 1 pig, 6 cattle, 4 horses, 1 llama, 7 skunks (Mephitis mephitis), 7 raccoons (Procyon lotor), 1 bat (Myotis species), 1 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), 1 bobcat (Lynx rufus), 2 gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and 1 red fox (Vulpes vulpes). All cases had previously been diagnosed as rabies using histopathology and/or fluorescent antibody testing. The immunohistochemistry technique successfully detected lyssavirus antigen in all cases. In species for which 3 or more samples were available, distributional trends were seen in 4 main brain regions: brainstem, cerebellum, hippocampus, and cerebrum. The best site for rabies virus detection in dogs and cats was the hippocampus. For cattle, viral antigen was most prominent in the brainstem, followed by the cerebellum. In horses, the cervical spinal cord and adjacent brainstem were the optimal sites for detecting rabies virus antigen. In raccoons and skunks, positive labeling was widely dispersed, so selection might be less important for these wildlife reservoir species. Immunohistochemistry should prove useful in enhancing the accuracy of rabies diagnosis through informed selection of brain sampling sites when composite sampling is not feasible. This immunohistochemical technique could provide reliable virus detection in formalin-fixed tissues in any potentially infected species.

published proceedings

  • Vet Pathol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Stein, L. T., Rech, R. R., Harrison, L., & Brown, C. C.

citation count

  • 46

complete list of authors

  • Stein, LT||Rech, RR||Harrison, L||Brown, CC

publication date

  • July 2010