Schmallenberg Virus Infection of Adult Type I Interferon Receptor Knock-Out Mice
Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a novel orthobunyavirus, was discovered in Europe in late 2011. It causes mild and transient disease in adult ruminants, but fetal infection can lead to abortion or severe malformations. There is considerable demand for SBV research, but in vivo studies in large animals are complicated by their long gestation periods and the cost of high containment housing. The goal of this study was to investigate whether type I interferon receptor knock-out (IFNAR-/-) mice are a suitable small animal model for SBV. Twenty IFNAR-/- mice were inoculated with SBV, four were kept as controls. After inoculation, all were observed and weighed daily; two mice per day were sacrificed and blood, brain, lungs, liver, spleen, and intestine were harvested. All but one inoculated mouse lost weight, and two mice died spontaneously at the end of the first week, while another two had to be euthanized. Real-time RT-PCR detected large amounts of SBV RNA in all dead or sick mice; the controls were healthy and PCR-negative. IFNAR-/- mice are susceptible to SBV infection and can develop fatal disease, making them a handy and versatile tool for SBV vaccine research.