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Viruses 2018, 10(7), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10070373

A Novel Squirrel Respirovirus with Putative Zoonotic Potential

1
Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Südufer 10, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
2
Saxon State Laboratory of Health and Veterinary Affairs, Bahnhofstraße 58-60, 04158 Leipzig, Germany
3
Institute of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 33, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
4
Saxon State Laboratory of Health and Veterinary Affairs, Jägerstraße 8/10, 01099 Dresden, Germany
5
Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Südufer 10, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 July 2018 / Revised: 14 July 2018 / Accepted: 16 July 2018 / Published: 18 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Abstract

In a globalized world, the threat of emerging pathogens plays an increasing role, especially if their zoonotic potential is unknown. In this study, a novel respirovirus, family Paramyxoviridae, was isolated from a Sri Lankan Giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura), which originated in Sri Lanka and deceased with severe pneumonia in a German zoo. The full-genome characterization of this novel virus, tentatively named Giant squirrel respirovirus (GSqRV), revealed similarities to murine (71%), as well as human respiroviruses (68%) with unique features, for example, a different genome length and a putative additional accessory protein. Congruently, phylogenetic analyses showed a solitary position of GSqRV between known murine and human respiroviruses, implicating a putative zoonotic potential. A tailored real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) for specific detection of GSqRV confirmed a very high viral load in the lung, and, to a lesser extent, in the brain of the deceased animal. A pilot study on indigenous and exotic squirrels did not reveal additional cases in Germany. Therefore, further research is essential to assess the geographic distribution, host range, and zoonotic potential of this novel viral pathogen. View Full-Text
Keywords: novel respirovirus; isolate; pneumonia; Sri Lankan Giant squirrel; potential zoonosis; Paramyxoviridae novel respirovirus; isolate; pneumonia; Sri Lankan Giant squirrel; potential zoonosis; Paramyxoviridae
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Forth, L.F.; Konrath, A.; Klose, K.; Schlottau, K.; Hoffmann, K.; Ulrich, R.G.; Höper, D.; Pohlmann, A.; Beer, M. A Novel Squirrel Respirovirus with Putative Zoonotic Potential. Viruses 2018, 10, 373.

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