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Open AccessArticle

No Evidence of Mosquito Involvement in the Transmission of Equine Hepacivirus (Flaviviridae) in an Epidemiological Survey of Austrian Horses

1
University Equine Clinic - Internal Medicine, Department for Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
2
Institute of Virology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
3
Institute for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Medical School Hannover (MHH) – Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Feodor-Lynen-Strasse 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany
4
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Building 14, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai, UAE
5
Department of Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44801 Bochum, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Viruses 2019, 11(11), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11111014
Received: 28 September 2019 / Revised: 28 October 2019 / Accepted: 29 October 2019 / Published: 1 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equine Viruses)
Prevalence studies have demonstrated a global distribution of equine hepacivirus (EqHV), a member of the family Flaviviridae. However, apart from a single case of vertical transmission, natural routes of EqHV transmission remain elusive. Many known flaviviruses are horizontally transmitted between hematophagous arthropods and vertebrate hosts. This study represents the first investigation of potential EqHV transmission by mosquitoes. More than 5000 mosquitoes were collected across Austria and analyzed for EqHV ribonucleic acid (RNA) by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Concurrently, 386 serum samples from horses in eastern Austria were analyzed for EqHV-specific antibodies by luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) and for EqHV RNA by RT-qPCR. Additionally, liver-specific biochemistry parameters were compared between EqHV RNA-positive horses and EqHV RNA-negative horses. Phylogenetic analysis was conducted in comparison to previously published sequences from various origins. No EqHV RNA was detected in mosquito pools. Serum samples yielded an EqHV antibody prevalence of 45.9% (177/386) and RNA prevalence of 4.15% (16/386). EqHV RNA-positive horses had significantly higher glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH) levels (p = 0.013) than control horses. Phylogenetic analysis showed high similarity between nucleotide sequences of EqHV in Austrian horses and EqHV circulating in other regions. Despite frequently detected evidence of EqHV infection in Austrian horses, no viral RNA was found in mosquitoes. It is therefore unlikely that mosquitoes are vectors of this flavivirus. View Full-Text
Keywords: arbovirus; flavivirus; hematophagous arthropod; hepacivirus A; hepatitis; insects; mosquito-borne virus; virus transmission arbovirus; flavivirus; hematophagous arthropod; hepacivirus A; hepatitis; insects; mosquito-borne virus; virus transmission
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Badenhorst, M.; de Heus, P.; Auer, A.; Rümenapf, T.; Tegtmeyer, B.; Kolodziejek, J.; Nowotny, N.; Steinmann, E.; Cavalleri, J.-M. No Evidence of Mosquito Involvement in the Transmission of Equine Hepacivirus (Flaviviridae) in an Epidemiological Survey of Austrian Horses. Viruses 2019, 11, 1014.

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