Although dogs are considered to be the principal transmitter of rabies in Brazil, dog rabies had never been recorded in South America before European colonization. In order to investigate the evolutionary history of dog rabies virus (RABV) in Brazil, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of carnivore RABV isolates from around the world and estimated the divergence times for dog RABV in Brazil. Our estimate for the time of introduction of dog RABV into Brazil was the late-19th to early-20th century, which was later than the colonization period but corresponded to a period of increased immigration from Europe to Brazil. In addition, dog RABVs appeared to have spread to indigenous animals in Brazil during the latter half of the 20th century, when the development and urbanization of Brazil occurred. These results suggest that the movement of rabid dogs, along with human activities since the 19th century, promoted the introduction and expansion of dog RABV in Brazil.
ASJC Scopus subject areas