n Journal of the South African Veterinary Association - Mokola virus infection : description of recent South African cases and a review of the virus epidemiology - : case report

Volume 69, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1019-9128
  • E-ISSN: 2224-9435


Five cases of Mokola virus, a lyssavirus related to rabies, are described. The cases occurred in cats from the East London, Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg areas of South Africa from February 1996 to February 1998. Each of the cats was suspected of being rabid and their brains were submitted for laboratory confirmation. Four of the cases were positive, but with atypical fluorescence, and 1 was negative. Mokola virus infection was identified by anti-lyssavirus nucleocapsid monoclonal antibody typing. As in rabies cases, the predominant clinical signs were of unusual behaviour. Aggression was present, but only during handling. Four of the 5 cats had been vaccinated for rabies, which is consistent with other studies that show that rabies vaccination does not appear to protect against Mokola virus. Since Mokola may be confused with rabies, the incidence of Mokola virus may be more common in Africa than is currently reported. As human infections may be fatal, the emergence of this virus is a potential threat to public health.

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