Rabies persists in Ontario wildlife in two predominant species: the red fox () and the striped skunk (). A protocol applying reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction (RT/PCR) and restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) to the rabies virus nucleoprotein gene was previously reported by Nadin-Davis ( , 829–837, 1993) to be useful for discrimination of rabies virus variants in Ontario. Four main types, which showed no host species specificity but which did exhibit different geographical distributions, were identified. Between 1989 and 1992 an area north and west of the city of North Bay experienced unusual and substantial rabies activity. In this report we describe the use of these molecular techniques to investigate the epidemiology of this recent rabies outbreak in central Ontario. It is shown that two of the four previously identified variants had invaded this region from the south and east, but in addition viruses very closely related to arctic isolates of rabies virus were found. The nucleoprotein and glycoprotein genes of this arctic type were sequenced and compared to those of its more southerly neighbours.


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