Borna disease virus 1 infection in alpacas : Comparison of pathological lesions and viral distribution to other dead-end hosts

Borna disease is a progressive meningoencephalitis caused by spillover of the Borna disease virus 1 (BoDV-1) to horses and sheep and has gained attention due to its zoonotic potential. New World camelids are also highly susceptible to the disease;
however, a comprehensive description of the pathological lesions and viral distribution is lacking for these hosts. Here, the authors describe the distribution and severity of inflammatory lesions in alpacas (n = 6) naturally affected by this disease in comparison to horses (n = 8) as known spillover hosts. In addition, the tissue and cellular distribution of the BoDV-1 was determined via immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. A predominant lymphocytic meningoencephalitis was diagnosed in all animals with differences regarding the severity of lesions. Alpacas and horses with a shorter disease duration showed more prominent lesions in the cerebrum and at the transition of the nervous to the glandular part of the pituitary gland, as compared to animals with longer disease progression. In both species, viral antigen was almost exclusively restricted to cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems, with the notable exception of virus-infected glandular cells of the Pars intermedia of the pituitary gland. Alpacas likely represent dead-end hosts similar to horses and other spillover hosts of BoDV-1.



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