Another zoonotic disease I briefly mentioned in passing was rabies. As you may know rabies is a very nasty viral disease that is invariably fatal once symptoms appear. Only six people are ever know to have survived rabies after symtpoms appeared, the last one a girl bitten by a rabid bat in Wisconsin in 2004.
Although it only causes a handful of cases a year in developed countries, and has been eliminated in some it still causes over 24,000 deaths a year in Africa, mostly children in poor rural communities.
A recent paper in the Journal of General Virology analyzed 182 samples of dog rabies virus from 27 African countries taken over a time period of 29 years. They showed that most of the rabies virus circulating in dogs in western and central Africa comes from a common ancestor introduced to the continent around 200 years ago, probably by European colonialists.
Dr Hervé Bourhy et al. Evolutionary history and dynamics of dog rabies virus in western and central Africa. Journal of General Virology, (in press)