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Viruses 2014, 6(7), 2698-2707;

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Detected in Pico, Azores, Portugal, Revealed a Unique Endemic Strain with More Than 17 Years of Independent Evolution

Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBIO Laboratório Associado (CIBIO), Vairão, 4485-661, Portugal
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Porto, 4169-007, Portugal
Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada em Ciências e Tecnologias da Saúde (CESPU), Gandra, 4585-116, Portugal
INSERM, UMR892, Université de Nantes, Nantes, 44007, France
SaBio—IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ciudad Real, 13071, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 May 2014 / Revised: 23 June 2014 / Accepted: 4 July 2014 / Published: 14 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is caused by a calicivirus, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), which is responsible for high mortality in domestic and wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). RHDV strains were sequenced from wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus) collected in the Azorean island of Pico, Portugal. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the Pico RHDV strains diverge from all of the others described so far, but cluster with the genogroups 1–5 (G1–G5). The genetic distance between the Pico RHDV sequences and each G1, G2 and G3–G5 genogroup (~0.08) is compatible with an RHDV introduction at least 17 years ago. Our results show that in Pico, RHDV is the outcome of an independent evolution from the original RHDV strain that appeared in its European rabbit population. These are the first sequences of RHDV obtained in the subspecies O. c. algirus, outside of its original region, the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, we discuss the risk of rabbit translocations from the Azores to the Iberian Peninsula, where the rabbit wild populations are suffering high mortalities. View Full-Text
Keywords: RHDV; European rabbit; Azores; endemism RHDV; European rabbit; Azores; endemism

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Esteves, P.J.; Lopes, A.M.; Magalhães, M.J.; Pinheiro, A.; Gonçalves, D.; Abrantes, J. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Detected in Pico, Azores, Portugal, Revealed a Unique Endemic Strain with More Than 17 Years of Independent Evolution. Viruses 2014, 6, 2698-2707.

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