1887

Abstract

Parapoxvirus (PPV) infections are of worldwide importance, particularly in sheep and goat herds. Owing to the zoonotic potential of all PPV species, they are a permanent threat to human health as well. The virus is also known to affect wildlife, as reported for pinnipeds, red deer and several other wild ruminants. PPVs found in red deer have been claimed as a unique species according to certain genomic features. So far infection of wildlife has been recognized because of clinical manifestation such as inflammation, stomatitis or typical pox-like lesions in the skin or mucous membranes. Here we report the use of targeted molecular diagnostics for the presence of PPV genomes in tonsil swabs of apparently healthy red deer in the Bavarian Alps. Out of 1764 swabs, 0.79 % tested positive for PPV genome presence. From one sample, PPV was successfully isolated in cell culture. This virus became the subject of complete genome characterization using next generation sequencing and various subsidiary PCR protocols. Strikingly, about a quarter of all ORFs were found to be larger than the corresponding ORFs in the reference PPV genome sequences used for comparison. To our knowledge this is the first genome-wide analysis that confirms red deer PPV as a unique species within the genus in Europe. Persistence of PPV in Alpine red deer indicates a source for virus transmission to susceptible livestock and hunters. The findings provide a further example of wildlife animals playing an important role as an inconspicuous reservoir of zoonotic diseases.

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2015-06-01
2020-01-19
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