Dr Denise Marston

Lecturer (Veterinary Virology and One Health)
I work Monday-Friday for 3-4 hrs each day between 9am and 4pm


Areas of specialism

Veterinary Virology; Virus evolution

My qualifications

PhD (Infectious Diseases)
AIX Marseille University
BSc (Hons) Biological Science (Microbiology)
University of Leicester


In the media


S. Beck, P. Gunawardena, D. L. Horton, D. J. Hicks, D. A. Marston, A. Ortiz-Pelaez, A. R. Fooks, A. Nunez (2017)Pathobiological investigation of naturally infected canine rabies cases from Sri Lanka, In: BMC veterinary research13(1)pp. 99-99 Springer Nature

Background: The recommended screening of rabies in `suspect' animal cases involves testing fresh brain tissue. The preservation of fresh tissue however can be difficult under field conditions and formalin fixation provides a simple alternative that may allow a confirmatory diagnosis. The occurrence and location of histopathological changes and immunohistochemical (IHC) labelling for rabies in formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) canine brain is described in samples from 57 rabies suspect cases from Sri-Lanka. The presence of Negri bodies and immunohistochemical detection of rabies virus antigen were evaluated in the cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum and brainstem. The effect of autolysis and artefactual degeneration of the tissue was also assessed. Results: Rabies was confirmed in 53 of 57 (93%) cases by IHC. IHC labelling was statistically more abundant in the brainstem. Negri bodies were observed in 32 of 53 (60.4%) of the positive cases. Although tissue degradation had no effect on IHC diagnosis, it was associated with an inability to detect Negri bodies. In 13 cases, a confirmatory Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for rabies virus RNA was undertaken by extracting RNA from fresh frozen tissue, and also attempted using FFPE samples. PCR detection using fresh frozen samples was in agreement with the IHC results. The PCR method from FFPE tissues was suitable for control material but unsuccessful in our field cases. Conclusions: Histopathological examination of the brain is essential to define the differential diagnoses of behaviour modifying conditions in rabies virus negative cases, but it is unreliable as the sole method for rabies diagnosis, particularly where artefactual change has occurred. Formalin fixation and paraffin embedding does not prevent detection of rabies virus via IHC labelling even where artefactual degeneration has occurred. This could represent a pragmatic secondary assay for rabies diagnosis in the field because formalin fixation can prevent sample degeneration. The brain stem was shown to be the site with most viral immunoreactivity; supporting recommended sampling protocols in favour of improved necropsy safety in the field. PCR testing of formalin fixed tissue may be successful in certain circumstances as an alternative test.

H. Goharriz, D. A. Marston, F. Sharifzoda, R. J. Ellis, D. L. Horton, T. Khakimov, A. Whatmore, K. Khamroev, A. N. Makhmadshoev, M. Bazarov, A. R. Fooks, A. C. Banyard (2017)First Complete Genomic Sequence of a Rabies Virus from the Republic of Tajikistan Obtained Directly from a Flinders Technology Associates Card, In: Genome announcements (Washington, DC)5(27) Amer Soc Microbiology

A brain homogenate derived from a rabid dog in the district of Tojiko-bod, Republic of Tajikistan, was applied to a Flinders Technology Associates (FTA) card. A full-genome sequence of rabies virus (RABV) was generated from the FTA card directly without extraction, demonstrating the utility of these cards for readily obtaining genetic data.

Arran J. Folly, Denise A. Marston, Megan Golding, Shweta Shukla, Rebekah Wilkie, Fabian Z. X. Lean, Alejandro Núñez, Lisa Worledge, James Aegerter, Ashley C. Banyard, Anthony R. Fooks, Nicholas Johnson, Lorraine M. McElhinney (2021)Incursion of European Bat Lyssavirus 1 (EBLV-1) in Serotine Bats in the United Kingdom, In: Viruses13(10)1979 MDPI

Lyssaviruses are an important genus of zoonotic viruses which cause the disease rabies. The United Kingdom is free of classical rabies (RABV). However, bat rabies due to European bat lyssavirus 2 (EBLV-2), has been detected in Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii) in Great Britain since 1996, including a fatal human case in Scotland in 2002. Across Europe, European bat lyssavirus 1 (EBLV-1) is commonly associated with serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus). Despite the presence of serotine bats across large parts of southern England, EBLV-1 had not previously been detected in this population. However, in 2018, EBLV-1 was detected through passive surveillance in a serotine bat from Dorset, England, using a combination of fluorescent antibody test, reverse transcription-PCR, Sanger sequencing and immunohistochemical analysis. Subsequent EBLV-1 positive serotine bats have been identified in South West England, again through passive surveillance, during 2018, 2019 and 2020. Here, we confirm details of seven cases of EBLV-1 and present similarities in genetic sequence indicating that emergence of EBLV-1 is likely to be recent, potentially associated with the natural movement of bats from the near continent