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Deciphering Antibody Responses to Orthonairoviruses in Ruminants

Antibody cross-reactivities between related viruses are common diagnostic challenges, resulting in reduced diagnostic specificities and sensitivities. In this study, antibody cross-reactions between neglected members of the genus Orthonairovirus—Hazara (HAZV), Dugbe (DUGV), and Nairobi sheep disease orthonairovirus (NSDV)—were investigated. Mono-specific ovine and bovine sera following experimental infections as well immunization trials with HAZV, DUGV, and NSDV were tested in homologous and heterologous virus-specific assays, namely indirect ELISAs based on recombinant N protein, indirect immunofluorescence assays (iIFA), and two neutralization test formats (plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) and micro-virus neutralization test (mVNT)). The highest specificities were achieved with the ELISAs, followed by the mVNT, iIFA, and PRNT. Cross-reactivities were mainly observed within the Nairobi sheep disease serogroup–but surprisingly, HAZV antibodies in PRNT did also neutralize NSDV and DUGV. In conclusion, we recommend ELISAs and mVNTs for a discriminative diagnostic approach to differentiate between these antibodies. NSDV antisera were also used in serological assays for the detection of antibodies against the human pathogen Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever orthonairovirus (CCHFV). Interestingly, all CCHFV ELISAs (In-house and commercial) achieved high diagnostic specificities, whereas significant cross-reactivities were observed in a CCHFV iIFA. Previously, similar results were obtained when analyzing the HAZV and DUGV antisera.


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