1887

Abstract

Heron hepatitis B viruses (HHBVs) in three subspecies of free-living great blue herons () from Florida, USA, were identified and characterized. Eight of 13 samples were positive in all assays used, whereas sera from egrets, which are also members of the family Ardeidae, were negative in the same assays. Comparative phylogenetic analysis of viral DNA sequences from the preS/S region of previously reported and novel HHBV strains isolated from captive grey herons (Germany) and free-ranging great blue herons (USA), respectively, revealed a strong conservation (95 % sequence similarity) with two separate clusters, implying a common ancestor of all strains. Our data demonstrate for the first time that different subspecies of herons are infected by HHBV and that these infections exist in non-captive birds. Phylogenetic analysis and the fact that the different heron species are geographically isolated populations suggest that lateral transmission, virus adaptation and environmental factors all play a role in HHBV spreading and evolution.

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2005-05-01
2019-10-22
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