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Diagnosis and Pathogenesis of Nairobi Sheep Disease Orthonairovirus Infections in Sheep and Cattle

Nairobi sheep disease orthonairovirus (NSDV) is a zoonotic tick-borne arbovirus, which causes severe gastroenteritis in small ruminants. To date, the virus is prevalent in East Africa and Asia. However, due to climate change, including the spread of transmitting tick vectors and increased animal movements, it is likely that the distribution range of NSDV is enlarging. In this project, sheep and cattle (hitherto classified as resistant to NSDV) were experimentally infected with NSDV for a comparative study of the species-specific pathogenesis. For this purpose, several new diagnostic assays (RT-qPCR, ELISA, iIFA, mVNT, PRNT) were developed, which will also be useful for future epidemiological investigations. All challenged sheep (three different doses groups) developed characteristic clinical signs, transient viremia and virus shedding—almost independent on the applied virus dose. Half of the sheep had to be euthanized due to severe clinical signs, including hemorrhagic diarrhea. In contrast, the course of infection in cattle was only subclinical. However, all ruminants showed seroconversion—implying that, indeed, both species are susceptible for NSDV. Hence, not only sheep but also cattle sera can be included in serological monitoring programs for the surveillance of NSDV occurrence and spread in the future.

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