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News Article

Another novel pestivirus discovered in pigs in Austria

The emergence of a novel pestivirus species, provisionally termed Linda virus, may have implications for Classical swine fever virus surveillance.

An atypical porcine pestivirus was recently discovered in Europe and the USA in piglets with congenital tremor (“shaking piglets”). Researchers at the Vetmeduni Vienna have now discovered a further new virus in shaking piglets on an Austrian farm. The pathogenic agent is related to the Australian Bungowannah virus and more distantly to Classical swine fewer virus. Because of the symptoms it causes, the new virus has been provisionally named Linda virus (lateral-shaking inducing neurodegenerative agent). Its discovery is described in an article in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In 2015, an Austrian pig breeder observed a number of newborn “shaking piglets” on his farm. Such piglets suffer from a disease in which heavy damage to the brain and spinal cord causes severe shaking. The condition is associated with huge financial losses for the farm. It is believed to be caused by an atypical porcine pestivirus (APPV) that was recently discovered in Europe and the USA. Scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna have subsequently found the virus in Austria.

Because of the pronounced symptoms on this particular farm, experts checked whether the animals were infected with the recently described APPV. Despite comprehensive and highly specific tests, neither APPV nor another pathogen known to cause the disease could be found. However, the symptoms and the results suggested that a pestivirus was somehow involved, so the scientists designed a new type of diagnostic test that ultimately led to the discovery of a new pestivirus.

“The new PCR assay our team developed recognized all known pestiviruses,” explains Benjamin Lamp of the Institute of Virology,“ and so enabled us to detect a virus that was previously unknown.” The complete analysis of the organization of the genome and characteristic proteins showed that the newly discovered pathogen is a pestivirus from the family of Flaviviridae. In contrast to APPV, which hardly infects cultured cells at all, Linda virus could be easily propagated on porcine cell lines without the need for adaptation, similar to what has been reported for Bungowannah virus.

It is unknown how widespread the new Linda virus is. “We are currently developing a serological test to learn more about the prevalence of the Linda virus in Austria, i.e. about the number of piglets it infects,” says Lamp. “The test will be important because analysis of the virus has shown that it is distantly related to the virus that causes classical swine fever. We cannot exclude the possibility that it might interfere with the official tests for swine fever.”

Read article: Novel Pestivirus Species in Pigs, Austria, 2015 by Benjamin Lamp, Lukas Schwarz, Sandra Högler, Christiane Riedel, Leonie Sinn, Barbara Rebel-Bauder, Herbert Weissenböck, Andrea Ladinig and Till Rümenapf, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases (2017) 23(7):1176-1179, doi:10.3201/eid2307.170163

Article details

  • Date
  • 05 July 2017
  • Source
  • Vetmeduni Vienna
  • Subject(s)
  • Food Animals