Rabies virus (RABV) infects multiple bat species in the Americas, and enzootic foci perpetuate in bats principally via intraspecific transmission. In recent years, bats have been implicated in over 90% of human rabies cases in the US. In Tennessee, two human cases of rabies have occurred since 1960: one case in 1994 associated with a tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) RABV variant and another in 2002 associated with the tricolored/silver-haired bat (P. subflavus/Lasionycteris noctivagans) RABV variant. From 1996 to 2010, 2,039 bats were submitted for rabies testing in Tennessee. Among 1,943 bats in satisfactory condition for testing and with a reported diagnostic result, 96% (1,870 of 1,943) were identified to species and 10% (196 of 1,943) were rabid. Big brown (Eptesicus fuscus), tricolored, and eastern red (Lasiurus borealis) bats comprised 77% of testable bat submissions and 84% of rabid bats. For species with five or more submissions during 1996–2010, the highest proportion of rabid bats occurred in hoary (Lasiurus cinereus; 46%), unspecified Myotis spp. (22%), and eastern red (17%) bats. The best model to predict rabid bats included month of submission, exposure history of submission, species, and sex of bat.
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Vol. 51 • No. 4