The presence of duck Tembusu virus in Thailand since 2007: a retrospective study.
Duck Tembusu virus (DTMUV), a newly emerging virus in ducks, was first reported in China in 2010. However, an unknown severe contagious disease associated with severe neurological signs and egg production losses in ducks, resembling to DTMUV infection, was observed in Thailand since 2007. To determine the presence of DTMUV in 2007, the clinical samples from affected ducks collected in 2007 were tested for DTMUV using pathological and virological analyses. Gross and histopathological lesions of affected ducks were mostly restricted to the ovary, brain and spinal cord, and correlated with the presence of flavivirus antigen in the brain and spinal cord samples. Subsequently, DTMUV was identified by RT-PCR and nucleotide sequencing of the polyprotein gene. Phylogenetic analysis of the polyprotein gene sequence revealed that the 2007 Thai DTMUV was a unique virus, belonged within DTMUV cluster 1, but distinctively separated from the Malaysian DTMUV, which was the most closely related DTMUV. It is interesting to note that the 2007 Thai DTMUV was genetically different from the currently circulating Thai and Chinese DTMUVs, which belonged to cluster 2. Our findings indicated that the 2007 Thai DTMUV emerged earlier from a common ancestor with the recently reported DTMUVs; however, it was genetically distinctive to any of the currently circulating DTMUVs. In conclusion, our data demonstrated the presence of DTMUV in the Thai ducks since 2007, prior to the first report of DTMUV in China in 2010. This study indicates that DTMUV may have circulated in the region long before 2010 and highlights high genetic diversity of DTMUVs in Asia.