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Investigation of fatal human Borna disease virus 1 encephalitis outside the previously known area for human cases, Brandenburg, Germany – a case report

Background The true burden and geographical distribution of human Borna disease virus 1 (BoDV-1) encephalitis is unknown. All detected cases so far have been recorded in Bavaria, southern Germany. Case presentation A retrospective laboratory and epidemiological investigation of a 2017 case of fatal encephalitis in a farmer in Brandenburg, northeast Germany, demonstrated BoDV-1 as causative agent by polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Next-generation sequencing showed that the virus belonged to a cluster not known to be endemic in Brandenburg. The investigation was triggered by a recent outbreak of animal Borna disease in the region. Multiple possible exposures were identified. The next-of-kin were seronegative. Conclusions The investigation highlights clinical awareness for human BoDV-1 encephalitis which should be extended to all areas endemic for animal Borna disease. All previously diagnosed human cases had occurred > 350 km further south. Further testing of shrews and livestock with Borna disease may show whether this BoDV-1 cluster is additionally endemic in the northwest of Brandenburg.



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