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Experimental Challenge of Sheep and Cattle with Dugbe Orthonairovirus, a Neglected African Arbovirus Distantly Related to CCHFV

Dugbe orthonairovirus (DUGV) is a tick-borne arbovirus within the order Bunyavirales. DUGV was first isolated in Nigeria, but virus isolations in ten further African countries indicate that DUGV is widespread throughout Africa. Humans can suffer from a mild febrile illness, hence, DUGV is classified as a biosafety level (BSL) 3 agent. In contrast, no disease has been described in animals, albeit serological evidence exists that ruminants are common hosts and may play an important role in the transmission cycle of this neglected arbovirus. In this study, young sheep and calves were experimentally inoculated with DUGV in order to determine their susceptibility and to study the course of infection. Moreover, potential antibody cross-reactivities in currently available diagnostic assays for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever orthonairovirus (CCHFV) were assessed as DUGV is distantly related to CCHFV. Following subcutaneous inoculation, none of the animals developed clinical signs or viremia. However, all ruminants seroconverted, as demonstrated by two DUGV neutralization test formats (micro-virus neutralization test (mVNT), plaque reduction (PRNT)), by indirect immunofluorescence assays and in bovines by a newly developed DUGV recombinant N protein ELISA. Sera did not react in commercial CCHFV ELISAs, whereas cross-reactivities were observed by immunofluorescence and immunoblot assays.



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