Ocular pathology in the first European case of human bat-borne rabies is described. The patient was a 30-year-old bat scientist who seven weeks after bat bite developed neurological symptoms and died 23 days later. Rabies virus antigens were detected in brain smears. After extensive virological studies the virus turned out to be a rabies-related virus, closely resembling the Duvenhage virus isolated from bats in South Africa in 1980. By light microscopy focal chronic inflammatory infiltration of the ciliary body and of the choroid was found. PAS-positive exudate was seen in the subretinal and in the outer plexiform layers of the retina, and retinal veins showed endothelial damage and perivascular inflammation. Many of the retinal ganglion cells were destroyed. The presence of rabies-related viral antigen in the retinal ganglion cells was shown by positive cytoplasmic immunofluorescence, though electron microscopy failed to identify definite viral structures in the retina. By immunohistochemistry glial fibrillary acidic protein was observed in the Müller's cells, which are normally negative for this antigen but express it as a reactive change when the retina is damaged. Synaptophysin, a constituent of presynaptic vesicles of normal retinal neurons, was not detected in the retina.
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