What is it about?

The importance of the ability to track the diversity and spread of viruses in a universal way that can be clearly communicated has been highlighted during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This, accompanied with the increase in the availability and use of pathogen sequence data, means the development of new genomic tools and classification systems can strengthen outbreak response and disease control. Here, we present an easy-to-use objective and transferable classification tool for tracking viruses at high resolution. We use rabies virus, the cause of a neglected zoonotic disease that kills around 59,000 people each year, as an example use case of this tool. Applying our tool to a global clade of rabies virus, we find an increase in resolution from 22 subclades to 96 lineages; this fourfold increase in the definition at which we can classify the virus, may allow us to identify areas of persistence and transmission that were not previously apparent and further resolve patterns of virus spread. Insights from the application of this tool should prove valuable in targeting dog vaccination campaigns and improving surveillance as countries work towards the elimination of dog-mediated rabies.

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Why is it important?

Using this tool, we can pinpoint with greater resolution the origin of cases, identify transmission routes and assess viral diversity. This assists in targeting vaccination campaigns and improving surveillance - an essential part of the 'Zero by 30' aim to eliminate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

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This page is a summary of: Making genomic surveillance deliver: A lineage classification and nomenclature system to inform rabies elimination, PLoS Pathogens, May 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010023.
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