The etiology of viral encephalitis in cattle often remains unresolved, posing a potential risk for animal and human health. In metagenomics studies of cattle with bovine non-suppurative encephalitis, parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) was identified in three brain samples. Interestingly, in two of these animals, bovine herpesvirus 6 and bovine astrovirus CH13 were additionally found. We investigated the role of PIV5 in bovine non-suppurative encephalitis and further characterized the three cases. With traditional sequencing methods, we completed the three PIV5 genomes, which were compared to one another. However, in comparison to already described PIV5 strains, unique features were revealed, like an 81 nucleotide longer open reading frame encoding the small hydrophobic (SH) protein. With in situ techniques, we demonstrated PIV5 antigen and RNA in one animal and found a broad cell tropism of PIV5 in the brain. Comparative quantitative analyses revealed a high viral load of PIV5 in the in situ positive animal and therefore, we propose that PIV5 was probably the cause of the disease. With this study, we clearly show that PIV5 is capable of naturally infecting different brain cell types in cattle in vivo and therefore it is a probable cause of encephalitis and neurological disease in cattle.
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