Spillover event of recombinant Lagovirus europaeus/GI.2 into the Iberian hare (Lepus granatensis) in Spain.
Viruses that affect lagomorphs have decades of reported history of spillover events. One of these viruses is the causative agent of the so-called rabbit or 'lagomorph' haemorrhagic disease (e.g. Lagovirus europaeus/GI.1 and L. europaeus/GI.2). In particular, L. europaeus/GI.2 has shown a great capacity to recombine with existing lagoviruses. In fact, it has replaced the former GI.1 genotype in the wild, and recently, an increase on spillover events has been detected among several lagomorph species including European and North American species of hares. In this study, we report for the first time the infection of a wild Iberian hare with GI.2 (RHDV2/b), potential shedding and associated histopathological alterations. We identify the recombinant GI.4P-GI.2 as causative of the infection and discuss plausible causes regarding the origin of the spillover event and its potential consequences for the Iberian hare wild populations, which is an endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula as well as an important game and prey species for many predators, including endangered species.