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Identification and Genetic Characterization of Viral Pathogens in Ruminant Gestation Abnormalities, Israel, 2015–2019

Infectious agents including viruses are important abortifacients and can cause fetal abnormalities in livestock animals. Here, samples that had been collected in Israel from aborted or malformed ruminant fetuses between 2015 and 2019 were investigated for the presence of the following viruses: the reoviruses bluetongue virus (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV), the flaviviruses bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and border disease virus (BDV), the peribunyaviruses Shuni virus (SHUV) and Akabane virus (AKAV), bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BoHV-1) and bovine ephemeral fever virus (BEFV). Domestic (cattle, sheep, goat) and wild/zoo ruminants were included in the study. The presence of viral nucleic acid or antigen could be confirmed in 21.8 % of abnormal pregnancies (213 out of 976 investigated cases), with peribunyaviruses, reoviruses and pestiviruses being the most prevalent. At least four different BTV serotypes were involved in abnormal courses of pregnancy in Israel. The subtyping of pestiviruses revealed the presence of two BDV and several distinct BVDV type 1 strains. The peribunyaviruses AKAV and SHUV were identified annually throughout the study period, however, variation in the extent of virus circulation could be observed between the years. In 2018, AKAV even represented the most detected pathogen in cases of small domestic ruminant gestation abnormalities. In conclusion, it was shown that various viruses are involved in abnormal courses of pregnancy in ruminants in Israel.

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